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Pinter Wins Nobel Prize For Literature

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The 75-year old British playwright Harold Pinter, noted for the extreme brutality of his characters and the extreme pacifism of his politics, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pinter is the third playwright the committe has honored in the past 10 years. Dario Fo and Elfriede Jelinek were the other two.

Pinter is the author of 29 plays. His most famous works include The Homecoming, The Caretaker, Betrayal, and The Birthday Party. The NY Times reports that "Mr. Pinter was treated for cancer of the esophagus in 2002 and has announced that he has retired from writing to focus on working for peace. He is a prominent anti-war activist in Britain, writing frequently in British newspapers about his staunch opposition to the United States-led invasion of Iraq."

Our most memorable experience with Pinter was when he, or his lawyers, shut down an unauthorized production of Betrayal that an experimental director friend of ours was taking to the Edinburgh Festival, without the rights. (Yes, we know this was both stupid and illegal.) This director was also trying to do interesting things with gender in the casting. Pinter was not amused and threatened to sue our friend and the university he attended. Since then, we've always had an impression of him as a formidable adversary. Now he's a Nobel laureate as well.

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Bookslut has a list of sites reporting on the win; the Nobel website has a funny, breathless phone interview with Pinter after the announcement of the prize ("I have no words at the moment..."); and the same site also has a detailed bio. Though other playwrights, like Mamet and LaBute, have been inspired by his bleak worldview and interrupted, abrupt dialogue, none has ever been so disturbed or so disturbing. Here's to the bitterest old man in Britain. May his tea never sweeten.