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Czech Franz Kafka Prize goes to France

Yves Bonnefoy, the best French poet, has received a prestigious Czech literary prize in Prague on Tuesday.

An international jury that included prominent German literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki and British publisher John Calder selected Bonnefoy in March to win the annual Franz Kafka Prize awarded by the Prague-based Franz Kafka Society.

The award - a small statue of Kafka by Czech artist Jaroslav Rona and a cash prize of US$10,000 (EUR6,950) - was established by the society in 2001.

The presentation was taking place at Prague's City Hall, said the society, which was founded shortly after the collapse of communism in 1989 to promote the legacy of Kafka and other German and Jewish writers from Prague.

The prize is awarded to "authors whose works of exceptional artistic qualities are found to appeal to readers regardless of their origin, nationality and culture," the society said.

Bonnefoy, 84, is regarded as one of the most influential French poets of the second half of the 20th century. He is also an influential essayist and the pre-eminent French translator of the work of William Shakespeare.

Some of his major poetry collections, including "On the Motion and Immobility of Douve," "Words in Stone" and "The Curved Planks" have been translated into Czech.

Bonnefoy is the seventh recipient of the award. Past winners include Philip Roth of the United States, Ivan Klima of the Czech Republic and Peter Nadas of Hungary. In 2004 and 2005, Austrian novelist, playwright and poet Elfriede Jelinek and British playwright Harold Pinter were chosen, respectively, for the prize shortly before they won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Japanese Haruki Murakami received the award last year.

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