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German author Rainald Goetz honored with Büchner literature prize

German writer Rainald Goetz has received the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize. The award is the most important literature accolade in German-speaking countries.

The 61-year-old was recognized for his life's work with the 50,000-euro ($55,000) prize at a ceremony in the southwestern city of Darmstadt on Saturday.

In a statement, the German Academy for Language and Literature described the author as "the German presence of the last 30 years," adding: "Behind his nervous, tense willingness to experience are a broad education and a sensitive historical consciousness, which allows the language a balance of passionate expressivity, observational coolness and satirical clarity."

Goetz was born in Munich in 1954 and studied history and medicine - both for which he achieved doctorates - before leaving the medical profession to become a full-time writer at age 30. His debut novel "Irre" ("Crazy") was released in 1983 and drew on his own studies of psychology as well as Germany's punk counter-culture. Goetz drew attention when he cut his forehead during a televised reading of the book and let blood drip down his face through the broadcast.

The novel became an immediate cult classic in Germany - reputation Goetz certified with his subsequent novels, including "Rave" and "Jeff Koons," both released in 1998.

Goetz has been lauded for his astute cultural observations, drawing on movements such as punk and techno to offer a unique contemporary German voice - and has also enjoyed success as a playwright and blogger. He has received a number of German literary prizes, including the Berlin Literature Prize and Schiller Memorial Prize.

The literary accolade is named after one of Germany's most important literary figures from the early 19th century, Georg Büchner (1813-1837), best known for his drama "Woyzeck." The annual prize celebrates writers in the German language which have, through their oeuvre, helped shape and define contemporary German culture. Previous winners include Heiner Müller, Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Elias Canetti and Elfriede Jelinek.

Also on Saturday, linguist Peter Eisenberg received the Sigmund Freud Prize and journalist Gabriele Goettle was awarded the Johann Heinrich Merck Prize - both including prize money of 20,000 euros.

jgt,nm/jm (dpa, epd)

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