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Reactions to Nobel Prize

September 30, 1999

Guenter Grass was saluted Thursday as a deserving _ and overdue _ winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature.

``I consider Guenter Grass to be the greatest European novelist of the second half of the 20th century, and I am delighted the Nobel Prize has gone to the most deserving candidate,″ British author Salman Rushdie said after the Nobel Academy announced its choice.

``It’s about time,″ said Nadine Gordimer, the South African who won the prize in 1991.

``His writing had a great political significance, especially in the renaissance of Germany after the World War. He never failed to confront Germans with what they did, but always with a great sense of the vitality that was in the people and still is there,″ Gordimer said.

Czech President Vaclav Havel slyly hinted that he wasn’t fully qualified to assess this year’s award.

In a fax to Grass, Havel said: ``Dear master, I rejoice over your award and look forward to the time when I am not president and when I have time to read all of your books.″

Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish poet who won the prize in 1980, said this year’s award signals ``that political literature does not belong to the past.″

Wislawa Szymborska, the Polish poet who won the prize in 1996, said Grass ``has merited this award for a long time.″

Grass is very popular in Poland, mainly because of ``The Tin Drum,″ set in the Polish port of Gdansk and its milieu of German and Polish cultures.

Grass is a ``great author, courageous man and a friend of Poland,″ said Polish literary critic Eugeniusz Czplajewski.

``He looked at Polish-German relations with courage and in a matter-of-fact way, for which he was strongly criticized in Germany.″

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