One of Switzerland's top awards for literature, the "Schiller Prize" has been given to Italian-born Grytzko Mascioni of canton Graubunden.
It is the first time in the history of the Schiller Prize that a member of Switzerland's Italian-speaking community has received the award.
Mascioni was given the prize for lifetime achievement, although he remains almost unknown in German-speaking Switzerland.
In an official statement by the jury at the weekend, Mascioni's work was praised for its "high quality" but also for his "rather unusual roots in Italy and the former Yugoslavia which transcends linguistic and national boundaries".
Past winners of the prize, which has been awarded every four to six years since 1920, include Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz and Giorgio Orelli. The award comes with a cheque of SFr30,000.
Mascioni, 63, spent his youth in the former Yugoslavia, before settling in canton Ticino, where he worked in Swiss public broadcasting and for regional newspapers. He now lives in canton Graubunden.
Since the age of 17 he has published 50 pieces of literature, including poems, plays, novels and film scripts.
In acceptance speech, Mascioni said that although he had lost some of his belief in human nature, he still believed in the power of language.
swissinfo with agencies