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Suffolk-educated author wins top prize

PUBLISHED: 05:19 28 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:22 24 February 2010

THE Suffolk-educated author Ian McEwan has won the fiction prize at America's prestigious National Book Critics Circle awards for his novel Atonement.

Mr McEwan, 53, was a pupil about 30 years ago at the Inner London Education Authority's boarding school, Woolverstone Hall, now the home of Ipswich High School for girls.

THE Suffolk-educated author Ian McEwan has won the fiction prize at America's prestigious National Book Critics Circle awards for his novel Atonement.

Mr McEwan, 53, was a pupil about 30 years ago at the Inner London Education Authority's boarding school, Woolverstone Hall, now the home of Ipswich High School for girls.

He also took creative writing courses with the novelists Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson while studying for an MA in English Literature at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

The author, who won the Booker Prize in 1998 for his novel Amsterdam after being shortlisted twice before, has long been praised for such complex, disturbing novels as The Innocent and Black Dogs.

But Atonement, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001, has proved to be his most popular book.

Focusing on the meaning of fiction, it has about 250,000 copies in print in the United States alone - a remarkable total for a literary novel published during difficult economic times.

"I thought Atonement would be pretty much an acquired taste," McEwan said in a statement read by his editor, Nan Talese.

McEwan's win also continues a trend among American critics, who have given the fiction prize to a non-US writer four times in the last five years.

In the general non-fiction category, which included William Langewiesche's controversial American Ground, Samantha Power won for A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

Firefighters had protested against the nomination of Langewiesche's book, which claims they looted Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks.

Several protesters, chanting "Langewiesche is the looter,' stood in front of the New York building where the ceremony took place.


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