Murakami Haruki given Spain's Princess of Asturias Award for Literature

Japanese author Murakami Haruki has won Spain's Princess of Asturias Award for Literature this year. It is one of the most prestigious awards in Europe.

The Princess of Asturias Foundation announced on Wednesday that the jury chose Murakami from among 37 candidates of 17 nationalities.

The foundation says, "A cult author who has been translated into more than forty languages, according to specialists Murakami is an unnerving writer, with a prose that reveals the influences of authors such as Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Capote and Vargas Llosa."

It goes on to say that in his works, "He employs an intimate tone -- at times surrealistic and with traces of humour and suspension of belief."

It adds he "confronts the most serious social problems and the fight to defend essential human values."

The Princess of Asturias Awards are often called Spain's Nobel Prizes. They cover eight categories, including arts, literature, sports, and technical and scientific research.

It is the first time that a Japanese person has won the literature award.

In 1999, Japanese astronaut Mukai Chiaki received the honor in the international cooperation category. Last year, another Japanese, architect Ban Shigeru was given the award for concord.