PLAYWRIGHT Harold Pinter revealed yesterday that he has given up writing altogether.
The writer was speaking at the Edinburgh Book Festival for his first major public event in Britain since winning the Nobel Prize for literature last year.
He was too ill to attend the Stockholm ceremony to collect his award last November, but used yesterday's sell-out event to launch a blistering attack on British and American policy in Iraq, arguing that suicide bombers' attacks were "acts of retaliation against western domination of the world".
Pinter, whose last published play came out in 2000, said the reason he had given up writing was that he had "written himself out", adding: "I recently had a holiday in Dorset and took a couple of my usual yellow writing pads. I didn't write a damn word. Fondly, I turned them over and put them in a drawer."
Speaking about suicide bombs, he said: "These are terrible, horrific acts - let there be no question of that - but I believe they are logical and inevitable until we take a different view of our political responsibility.
"In Iraq, there have been 150,000 deaths we have brought about. There is plenty of blood on the streets, brought about by what I would claim, without hesitation, is state terrorism."
Appearing frail and walking with a stick, the 75-year-old playwright nevertheless gave a powerful reading from an interrogation scene in his first play, The Birthday Party.
And despite giving up writing he will carry on his acting career. In a fortnight he begins rehearsing Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape, in which he will appear at London's Royal Court Theatre. "It's a great challenge and I'm going to have a crack at it," he said.