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Nigeria's Chinua Achebe, hailed as the father of modern African writing, was awarded the £60,000 ($126,200) Man Booker International Prize Wednesday.

His award capped a triumphant month for Nigerian authors, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie last week landed the Orange Prize, one of the literary world's top awards for women writers.

Achebe won out over a host of international literary stars, including Canadians Margaret Atwood (a two-time nominee), Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje. The Booker's 15-name List of Contenders also included such authors as Don DeLillo, Doris Lessing, Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie.

The award is granted every two years to a living author for his or her achievements in fiction. Albanian author and poet Ismail Kadare won the 2005 prize, the first to be awarded.

Elaine Showalter, who headed the judging panel, said the winner had "inaugurated the modern African novel."

Achebe, who is now 76, is best known for his 1958 debut novel Things Fall Apart, which has sold 10 million copies worldwide, and Anthills of the Savannah, which was published 30 years later.

A diplomat in the short-lived Biafran government in the late 1960s, he centres his work mainly on African politics and how Africans are depicted in the West. Paralyzed from the waist down in a 1990 car accident, he has lectured at universities around the world and is currently a professor at Bard College in Annandale, N.Y.

He has been an inspiration to many African writers, Adichie said. "He is a remarkable man. ... He's what I think writers should be."