US author Michael Thomas has won the 100,000-euro (141,000-dollar) International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's richest prize for a work of fiction, organisers announced Thursday.
Thomas, who was born in Boston and now lives in New York with his wife and three children, scooped the award for his debut novel "Man Gone Down".
He beat off competition from 145 titles to win the prize, which is unique in that it receives its nominations from public libraries around the world. This year 157 libraries from 41 countries took part.
The judging panel praised "Man Gone Down", which tells the story of a black man from Boston who has four days to make enough money to reunite his family, as "brilliant in its scope and energy, and deeply moving in its human warmth".
"We never know his name. But the African-American protagonist of Michael Thomas? masterful debut, Man Gone Down, will stay with readers for a long time," it said.
"He lingers because this extraordinary novel comes to us from a writer of enthralling voice and startling insight. "
Previous winners of the prize, open to novels written in any language provided an English translation is available, include "De Niro's Game" by Rawi Hage, "Out Stealing Horses" by Per Petterson and "The Master" by Colm Toibin.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne, patron of the award, said readers from "every corner of the world have uncovered wonderful novels that otherwise may never have grasped public attention".
The only literary award which pays more than IMPAC is the Nobel Prize, which rewards a body of work rather than a single book.
First awarded in 1996, the prize -- sponsored by a Florida-based management productivity company whose European headquarters is in Dublin -- was established to underline the Irish capital's stature as a literary centre.
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