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Books

Rainald Goetz: Top German literature prize goes to edgy ex-doctor

The Georg Büchner Prize - one of Germany's top literary accolades - has been awarded to Rainald Goetz. The German author and playwright is acclaimed for his fusion of social realism and pop culture.

The German Academy for Language and Literature has named Rainald Goetz as the recipient of the 2015 Georg Büchner Prize. The Academy will officially award Goetz at a ceremony in Darmstadt in October, which includes prize money of 50,000 euros ($55,000).

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.

In an official statement, the German Academy for Language and Literature called Goetz "the German presence of the last 30 years," and added: "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."

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.

jgt/kbm (dpa, edp)

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