John Freeman

Like a glass-blower by a wintry sea, Tomas Transtromer has been slowly and painstakingly making poems in his native Stockholm since the early 1950s. In his debut work, the modestly titled Seventeen Poems, published when Transtromer was just 23, the Swedish poet imagined Thoreau in the woods, "disappearing deep in his inner greenness/artful and hopeful."

Philip Roth has won so many literary prizes, new ones need to be invented for him. Today, he added one such newish laurel to his chest of awards: the Man Booker International Prize. (Launched in 2005, the International Prize is awarded only every other year — making Roth the fourth winner.)