Melbourne: The most decorated living American novelist- Philip Roth on Wednesday was named as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize , beating off competition from 12 other contenders, including India-born Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry.

Roth, 78, one of the world's most prolific, celebrated and controversial writers won the biennial USD 97,500 award for a body of work stretching over more than half a century.

He is the fourth recipient of the award.

The prize is awarded for an achievement in fiction on the world stage. It is presented once every two years to a living author for a body of work published either originally in English or widely available in translation in the English language as opposed to the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which is awarded for a single book.

The prize was first presented in 2005.

Award great honour

Roth, who could not travel to Sydney to receive the award because of back problems, said it was a great honour to be recognised, Booker's website said.

"One of the particular pleasures I've had as a writer is to have my work read internationally despite all the heartaches of translation that that entails," the Connecticut-based author said in a statement.

"I hope the prize will bring me to the attention of readers around the world who are not familiar with my work. This is a great honour and I'm delighted to receive it."

Known for Portnoy’s Complaint

Roth is best known for his 1969 novel Portnoy's Complaint, and for his late-1990s trilogy comprising the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'American Pastora'l (1997), 'I Married a Communist' (1998), and 'The Human Stain' (2000).

He won the National Book Award at 26 for his first book, 'Goodbye', 'Columbus in 1960', and in 1995 for 'Sabbath's Theatre'. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998 for his novel, American Pastoral.

All in praise for Roth

Announcing the winner, judge Rick Gekoski said, "For more than 50 years Philip Roth's books have stimulated, provoked and amused an enormous, and still expanding, audience.

"His career is remarkable in that he starts at such a high level, and keeps getting better. In his 50s and 60s, when most novelists are in decline, he wrote a string of novels of the highest, enduring quality. Indeed, his most recent, Nemesis (2010), is as fresh, memorable, and alive with feeling as anything he has written. His is an astonishing achievement."

59-year-old Canada-based Mistry, who graduated from Bombay University, is the author of three novels -- 'Such a Long Journey (1991)', 'A Fine Balance (1996)' and 'Family Matters (2002)' -- each of which has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.