Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare has won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, beating British authors Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing and Ian McEwan.
The writer, who has lived in France since 1990, will receive £60,000 at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 27 June.
Professor John Carey, chair of the judging panel, called Mr Kadare "a universal writer in the tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer".
Mr Kadare said he was "deeply honoured" to win the prize.
"I am a writer from the Balkan Fringe, a part of Europe which has long been notorious exclusively for news of human wickedness," he said.
"My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realise this region... can also give rise to other kinds of news and be the home of other kinds of achievement in the field of the arts, literature and civilisation.
"I would like to take the prize as confirmation that my confidence and my hopes have not been misplaced."
As part of the prize, which is given to an author's body of work rather than one single title, Mr Kadare will be able to select a translator to receive an additional sum of £15,000.
Born in 1936 in the mountain town of Gjirokaster, Ismail Kadare is Albania's best known poet and novelist.
But he has not lived in the Balkan country for 15 years after France granted him political asylum in 1990.
He published his first novel, The General of the Dead Army, in 1963 and has since been published in more than 40 countries.
The International Booker, awarded every two years to a living author, was conceived in response to criticisms that the Booker Prize is only open to British and Commonwealth authors.
Of the 18-strong shortlist announced in February, only Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood had previously won the main Booker Prize.