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Anti-Israel novelist wins prestigious Costa prize

    Nathan Filer’s debut novel, The Shock of the Fall, will be published this year in 12 countries, including Israel. It was a decision, he said, that “was not easy” to accept.

    Mr Filer, who won the Costa First Novel Award this week, is a virulent critic of the Israeli government and and was last year arrested and deported from the country after attempting to travel to the West Bank.

    His novel, a story about mental illness, draws on his experience as a mental health nurse, last year sparked a bidding war between 11 different publishers. The Costa judges described it as “so good it will make you a better person”.

    The 32-year-old writer, who described his Costa success as “wonderful”, said he will donate his fee from the Israeli publication of his book to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which opposes settlements on the West Bank.

    He blogged: “I do not believe that any amount of history, however fraught or complicated, can ever justify a human rights abuse today.

    “I believe that Israel, beneath the thinnest veneer of international respectability, is perpetrating an apartheid similar to that witnessed in South Africa.”

    He also revealed that he proposed to his girlfriend, and that the couple conceived their daughter, while being held in an Israeli detention centre.

    Having won the first novel award, Mr Filer will compete against four other catergory winners — including Kate Atkinson and biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett — for the overall prize worth £30,000.

    The result will be announced on January 28.

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