‘Gomorrah’ author wins 2011 Olof Palme Prize

Roberto Saviano, author of Italian mafia exposé 'Gomorrah', and Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho, who has exposed high-level corruption in Mexico, were named the 2011 recipients of the Olof Palme memorial prize in Stockholm on Monday.

'Gomorrah' author wins 2011 Olof Palme Prize

Saviano and Cacho were awarded for “their tireless, selfless and often lonely struggle for their ideals, and for the benefit of fellow human beings,” the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement, hailing the pair for showing “extraordinary courage” and “acting despite the risk to their lives.”

Published in 2006, Gomorrah offers an unflinching exposé of Neapolitan organized crime and its function in the global economy. The book is a blend of journalism and auto-fiction which has come to be associated with the New Italian Epic literary genre.

“They remind us of the necessity to direct our attention toward countries that we could otherwise regard as democracies, countries in which particularly women and children are cruelly exploited, enslaved and destroyed by global criminal networks, which in turn also threaten democracy itself as a system,” it said.

Since “Gomorrah,” his best-selling book, 32-year-old Saviano has been living under 24-hour police protection after receiving repeated death threats.

Cacho, a 48-year-old feminist, human rights activist, journalist and writer known for accusing high-ranking officials of corruption, has meanwhile also faced numerous death since publishing her 2005 book, “Demons of Eden,” linking leading businessmen and politicians to a paedophile network.

Amnesty International last year expressed serious fears for the safety of the crusading reporter, who has won a number of other awards, including the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize.

The pair will receive their prize, consisting of a diploma and $75,000 (€58,000) at a ceremony in the Swedish parliament on January 27th.

The award, aimed at promoting peace and disarmament and combatting racism and xenophobia, was created in memory of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme who was gunned down by a lone attacker in February 1986, shortly after leaving a Stockholm cinema.

Palestinian psychiatrist Ehad El-Sarraj last year won the 2010 prize, while other former laureates include former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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