A recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Günter Wilhelm Grass was a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist and sculptor.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). As a teenager, he served as a drafted soldier from late 1944 in the Waffen-SS and was taken as a prisoner of war by US forces at the end of the war in May 1945. He was released in April 1946. Trained as a stonemason and sculptor, Grass began writing in the 1950s. In his fiction, he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood.
Grass is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), the first book of his Danzig Trilogy, the other two being Cat and Mouse and Dog Years. The Tin Drum was adapted as a film of the same name, which won both the 1979 Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1999, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, praising him as a writer ‘whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history’.
He was shortlisted, for his entire body of work, for The Man Booker International Prize 2005.
Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.
Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.
The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.