Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding has been presented since 1994. It pays tribute to personalities who in their book publications have rendered outstanding services towards the advancement of reconciliation throughout Europe, particularly with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Awards Committee is made up of the City of Leipzig, the Free State of Saxony, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association and the Leipziger Messe GmbH. For these curators, the furtherance of European reconciliation, above all with Central and Eastern Europe, is seen as a particular responsibility for Leipzig as a traditional city of the book trade and book fairs, and they intend to contribute to its fulfilment in their joint presentation of the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding.
A panel of prestigious international judges selects the award-winner. The Award is endowed with prize money of 20,000 Euro. The Award is presented every year during the official opening of Leipzig Book Fair.
2019: Masha Gessen
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2019 goes to the Russian-American journalist, author, translator and activist Masha Gessen for her book 'The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia'.
'The Future is History' - all of us would be forgiven for having entertained this thought in recent years, not just those inhabiting the former Soviet Union. No, it would have been equally apt in light of the events in Ferguson, Charlottesville, Washington, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Dortmund or Chemnitz and during a fair number of plenary sessions in the German parliament as well. The flames of intolerance are flaring up with increasing frequency, and with increasing frequency they are accompanied by violence. In some places they are spreading like wildfire, threatening the destruction of vibrant societies built on liberty and respect. Amidst these difficult times, the zeal, urgency and the powerfully committed intelligence we encounter in Masha Gessen - as an author and a citizen - offer a persuasive lifeline.
She placed four life stories at the heart of this spectacular and, in her own words, 'sweepingly factographic Russian novel': ailing under the oppression of Putin's policies, four young people face the potential wreckage of their hopes in life. The emancipatory awakening of the nineties is being smothered, sometimes beaten down savagely. Gessen's allusion to the lack of democratic instruments within post-Soviet society sharpens our awareness for the erosion of our own egalitarian institutions, the threat looming over what we had always assumed to be guaranteed.
An important book, implacable, stirring and at the same time piercing in its analysis. The relentless attacks on civil and human rights described and documented on its pages apply to increasing numbers of western countries as well. The Future is History speaks to us in this regard also, as the attacks are aimed at precisely the values and convictions upon which any form of European understanding must inevitably be built.
2018: Åsne Seierstad
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2018 goes to the Norwegian author and journalist Åsne Seierstad for her documentary novel One of Us.
Reading One of Us is a disturbing experience. Åsne Seierstad has reported from the world's combat zones for many years, including Chechnya, Serbia, Afghanistan and Syria... But she is in her home country on 22 July 2011, where she experiences the terrorist attack on the government district in Oslo and the inconceivable massacre on the island of Utoya. Seventy-seven people die. All of it planned and executed by a single man, Anders Breivik. His aim: the 'independence of Europe'. His enemies: Islam and the 'radical feminist agenda'.
One of Us is the stunning attempt to understand. Åsne Seierstad describes a man whose life, for long stretches, was not remarkably different to the lives of his peers. Yet at some point, he drops out, deciding 'to inflict unimaginably brutal harm on society.' Seierstad uses a myriad of mosaic pieces not only to assemble the perceptions and emotional world of the perpetrator, but also to give voice to the families of victims and survivors.
In doing so, she has created a documentary novel that is instructively balanced between a report and a narration, between fact and imagination, and thus unleashes a monumental maelstrom of forces. It contains fundamental truisms on the threatening age in which we are living. Yet Åsne Seierstad's accomplishment is to confront us with the sheer catastrophic extent of what happened, by bringing us face to face with the tragedy experienced on an individual level. Her book compels us to ask questions about inclusivity and community and about which elements are needed to produce mindful, dignified coexistence.
2017: Mathias Enard
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2017 goes to the French author and translator Mathias Enard for his novel Compass.
The age of grand, pestilent simplifications has descended upon us – accompanied by a cynicism built on just one principal constituent: ignorance. The success of populists, the incipient spread of prejudice directed at all things supposedly foreign, are dramatic testimonies. The Arab world in particular is falling victim to this unraveling. So in an age penned in by division and hate on all sides, Mathias Enard appears as a unique mediator, not a proselytiser, and instead as a passionate Oriental researcher possessing an immense wealth of knowledge and the power of his literary voice. In today’s world, where the Orient and the Occident face each other, gripped increasingly by the paralysis of animosity, fear, threat and counterthreat, he gives us insight, consumed by immense human compassion, into the Arab cultural region.
Effervescent with knowledge, his novel Compass demonstrates how the Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions are interwoven. More than this, he proves the centuries of influence that the Orient has exerted on European culture: the Occident is inconceivable without the Orient. This towering, melancholic and yet worldly novel, a literary celebration of our shared cultural legacy that simultaneously evokes the ongoing barbaric acts of destruction laying waste to the Arab regions, ends with a simple sentence, a dedication. It reads: For the Syrians.
2016: Heinrich August Winkler
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2016 goes to the historian Heinrich August Winkler from Berlin for his epochal work History of the West.
Displaying sound judgement, immense expertise and a singular dedication to painstaking research, his work sources the ideas of the American and French revolutions to interpret the normative project of Western values, namely the inalienability of human rights, the separation of powers, the sovereignty of nations, the rule of law and the representative nature of democracy.
Building a monumental narrative transcending states and continents, Winkler shows a keen sense of proportion in his clear and lucid writing, tracing the centuries-old struggle to uphold the societal accomplishments of 1776 and 1789. Masterfully blending analysis with storytelling and uniting the immense variety of aspects within a convincing synthesis, Winkler gives a broad, historically interested audience some invaluable points oforientation. By reiterating and emphasising the luminous potency of the Western project and its indelible importance for today’s world, this work is particularly vital in an age in which Western values appear more fragile and contested than ever before.
2015: Mircea Cărtărescu
Mircea Cărtărescu receives the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2015.
The 2015 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding goes to the Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu for his "Orbitor"-Trilogy, published 2014 by Zsolnay Wien in the German translation by Ferdinand Leopold.
The international jury explains its decision as follows:
in honour of his Orbitor trilogy of novels, whose third and final volume Die Flügel (English: The Right Wing) completes the cycle in its German translation. Transcending all conceivable boundaries, this monumental and unbridled work of prose is, in equal measure, a künstlerroman, an urban critique and a narrative of universal validity that nevertheless transcends reality in a spirit of the surreal, hallucinatory and visionary. Each strand woven through the chronicle comes from the consciousness of the first-person narrator, dreamer and blossoming poet Mircea, in whose mind the internal and external worlds coalesce. Mircea's investigation of his own identity and of language broadens to become both an exploration of the world and a cosmic fantasy. Emerging from the microcosm of his own origins, the history of his family and his childhood, the work effloresces into the macrocosm of Bucharest, both real and mythical, which appears as a place of compulsion and delusion under an absurd and megalomaniac dictatorship. The claim to globality, universal and all-encompassing in its validity, is already apparent in the title of the trilogy, Orbitor, which gently encircles numerous worlds of knowledge and language, ascends into the metaphysical and culminates in a blaze of phantasmagorical and apocalyptic splendour. The butterfly - its body and its two sets of wings with their kaleidoscopic world of colour - is the overarching metaphor throughout the trilogy, an apotheosis for transfiguration and the world's incessant shape shifting within this unique, universal opus.
2014: Pankaj Mishra
Pankaj Mishra receives the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2014.
The 2014 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding goes to the Indian publisher and historian Pankaj Mishra for his book From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia (Aus den Ruinen des Empires. Die Revolte gegen den Westen und der Wiederaufstieg Asiens), published 2013 by S. Fischer in the German translation by Michael Bischoff.
The international jury explains its decision as follows:
The 2014 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding goes to the Indian publisher and historian Pankaj Mishra for his seminal work From the Ruins of the Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia (Aus den Ruinen des Empires. Die Revolte gegen den Westen und der Wiederaufstieg Asiens), in which he analyses a non-western perspective of the search among Asian intellectuals to find answers to the West's strong-arming tactics. Richly illustrated with facts and recounted in colourful prose, Mishra tells the story of how Asia rose up against western imperialism, describing the various responses that Asia discovered to face western modernity. He presents the intellectual and political mobilisation based on the example of three iconoclastic personalities who fashioned the ascent of China and India to become global powers and who shaped the success of political Islam. It is the non-European view of the West that makes Pankaj Mishra's work so essential to help Europe define its own self-understanding within the modern world.
Statutes - Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding
The City of Leipzig, the Free State of Saxony as represented by the Saxon Ministry for Science and the Fine Arts, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association and Leipziger Messe GmbH view the achievement with the nations of Central and Eastern Europe as a particular obligation for Leipzig as a traditional city of the book trade and book fairs. They seek to support this with their joint presentation of the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. The City of Leipzig, the Free State of Saxony, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association and Leipziger Messe GmbH shall each appoint one representative to form the Committee.
The Award shall be presented annually to an individual who in the form of book publications, has rendered outstanding services to the advancement of mutual understanding in Europe.
The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding includes a main cash prize of 20,000 Euro. The Award shall be presented annually during the opening ceremony for the Leipzig Book Fair. The City of Leipzig and the Free State of Saxony shall each pay half of the prize money and of any incidental expenses arising in conjunction with the Award.
The panel of judges shall consist of up to nine members acting in an honorary capacity. The City of Leipzig, the Free State of Saxony and the German Publishers & Booksellers Association shall each appoint one representative to the panel of judges. The Winner of the previous year's Award shall also serve as a judge. The Committee shall elect all other members of the panel. The judges shall make their decision independently.The panel of judges has a quorum if at least two thirds of its members are present. In special circumstances, votes may be cast in writing prior to the final meeting of the panel of judges. The representative of the City of Leipzig and the representative of the Free State of Saxony shall alternate annually in chairing the panel of judges. The judges shall decide on the recipient of the Award by a simple majority.
Nominations for the winner of the Award can be submitted to the Committee by any individual. Reasons for the choice of nominee must be submitted in writing together with the nomination. Self-nominations of candidates shall not be accepted. The judges shall agree on the award-winner in a private meeting. The judges' decision is final with no right of appeal.
The representative of the City of Leipzig and the representative of the Free State of Saxony shall alternate annually in chairing the Committee. The Mayor of Leipzig, the Saxon State Minister Science and Art, the President of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association and the President CEO of Leipziger Messe GmbH shall take turns in presenting the Award.
Changes to Statutes can be effected by the Committee only.
The City of Leipzig Mayor
The Saxon Ministry of Science and the Fine Arts (SMWK) State Minister
German Publishers & Booksellers Association President
Leipziger Messe GmbH President CEO
The previous winners of the Prize
Klaus-Michael Bogdal has been chosen to receive the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2013. The German literary scholar will be honored for his book 'Europe’s Invention of the Gypsies: A History of Cultural Violence' published by Suhrkamp in 2011.
The award ceremony of the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2013 will mark the opening of the Leipzig Book Fair on the evening of 13 March 2013 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. The tribute speech wil be given by the author Feridun Zaimoglu.
The Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2012 is awarded in equal parts to the British historian Ian Kershaw and the US historian Timothy Snyder. Although both researchers focus on the Second World War in their most recent studies, their respective historical lines of questioning are so different that the works complement each other magnificently and can be read as counterparts. Equally, they have in common an ability to enable greater European understanding of our own horrific past.
The Free State of Saxony
The City of Leipzig
The German Publishers and Booksellers Association and
Leipziger Messe GmbH
Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2012
Ian Kershaw's major study "The End. Hitler's Germany 1944-45" stands out from the large array of historical works on the end of the war in its comprehensive portrayal, in-depth analysis and vivid narrative. Kershaw finds new answers to the question why the Germans, already vanquished on the battlefield, continued to fight for almost a year, bearing up in the face of their country's total destruction, and he finds numerous illuminative examples confirming the wealth of different reasons behind the Germans' self-destruction.
Timothy Snyder merges painstakingly researched data on German and Soviet murders in the middle of the 20th century with recollections of individual suffering. In his work »Bloodlands. Europe between Hitler and Stalin«, he widens our perception of industrial mass murder by closing in on hunger and terror as the cause of more than half of the victims' deaths. In this, »Bloodlands« at all times avoids the risk of dulling our senses: despite the inconceivable statistics, Timothy Snyder keeps a clear eye for the people and their individual fates.
Born 1944 in Bad Hall (Austria)
lives in Vienna and Bocksdorf (Austria)
Martin Pollack is awarded the Leipzig Book Prizefor European Understanding 2011 for his memorableand groundbreaking oeuvre, which, in theservices of enlightened historical policies, focusesabove all on the peripheral and long-neglectedregions of Eastern Europe. In his historical reportages,which time and again revolve around Galiciaas a starting point and emigrational epicentre ofEuropean catastrophes, Martin Pollack consistentlycasts an illuminating light on our contemporaryworld, drawing on equally unpretentious andpainstaking research and archive work. In Kaiservon Amerika, for instance, his latest volume ofcreative non-fiction, he describes the mass exodus ofJews, Poles and Ukrainians from Galicia andidentifies this wave of refugees as a prototype ofmodern-day migratory patterns with theirinsidious traffickers and human slavery. Honed asa translator of Ryszard Kapuściński, Martin Pollackcultivates reportage as an artistic form on theprecarious tightrope between essay writing anddocumentation – constantly focusing his empathyon lending a name and honour to history’s namelessvictims.
Born 1943 in Budapest (Hungary)
lives in Berlin (Germany)
György Dalos receives the Leipzig Book Award for European
Understanding for “Der Vorhang geht auf. Das Ende der Diktaturen in Osteuropa”. His subtly differentiated account of the historical processes that led to the implosion of the communist apparatuses of power in Poland, Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania fascinates in its commanding factual knowledge, its awareness of the telling detail and the confident reliability of its opinion. With reflective caution and disp assionate irony, Dalos reveals the main directions and the human dimension of the epoch-making change, the policy of the “fraternal states”, the dependences of the rulers, the protagonists of the opposition, the dynamics of the mass uprising – and finally too, the heavy burden of the legacies which the post-’89 societies have had to deal with.
The award honours a dedicated democrat. As a novelist, historian and essayist, György Dalos gives a voice to the idea of European understanding and serves it quite outstandingly as an intermediate.
Accolade: Lerke von Saalfeld, literary critic (Germany)
Born 1948 in Hawangen (Germany)
lives in Berlin (Germany)
Karl Schlögel receives the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for "Terror und Traum. Moskau 1937".
With deep respect for the incomprehensible, the author is meticulous in his research and visualisation of that year of terror. Schlögel gives prominence to the disparities, mistrusts the thinking that presumes causality, planning and order. He reads the omnipotence of state power as impotence, utopia as "thinking for exigency" and in this way, incorporates the extreme opposites of terror and dream into a narrative of synchrony that is aware of the limits of language's communicability. With the altered perspectives, analogies and axes of observation which he unfolds, he brings to one of the most enigmatic arenas in recent European history a new, a locational awareness.
Accolade: Jens Reich, Mediziner, Molekularbiologe (Germany)
Born 1946 in in Vlaardingen (Nederlande)
lives in Jorwerd (Netherlands)
Geert Mark receives the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his many different forms of work in which he explores and illuminates the history and present day of Europe in the 20th century. His descriptions of individual and collective biographies reveal and illustrate socio-economic processes and cultural changes. He combines historical research with the role of the enquirer, the observer, the traveller – and the powerful narrator. Amsterdam serves him as the subject for the “biography” of a city; his home village of Jorwerd is used to demonstrate the disappearance of the village in Europe. He tells the story of the 20th century as family history in “The Century of My Father” and in his magnum opus “In Europe”, as a journey into the past to the sites of the destruction and the rebirth of our continent. Geert Mak’s work shows us the dissonant many-voiced character of European memory.
Accolade: Johannes Willms, Journalist, Writer (Germany)
Gerd Koenen and Michael Ryklin receive the Award in equal parts.
Both express their hope for a European understanding with Russia that pursues democratic and civil principles, free from the calculation of power politics.
Born 1944 in Marburg/Lahn (Germany)
lives in Frankfurt/Main (Germany)
Gerd Koenen is awarded the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his work "Der Russland-Komplex. Die Deutschen und der Osten 1900 - 1945". In his brilliant historical summary, he outlines the intellectual, literary and political fascination that their large neighbour to the east has exerted over the Germans.
His rediscovery of a forgotten chapter in the extremely close and intense history of Russo-German relationship confronts us with our projection onto Russia as well as our susceptibility to seduction on a political level.
Accolade: Kerstin Holm, Journalist, Writer (Germany)
Born 1948 in Leningrad (Soviet Union)
lives in Moscow (Russia)
Mikhail Ryklin is awarded the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his political case study published in German as "Mit dem Recht des Stärkeren. Russische Kultur in Zeiten der ´gelenkten´Demokratie". As a witness, as someone directly involved, as a subtle analyst of fear and its function in the stabilisation of power, he describes the authoritarian inclinations in today´s Russia as demonstrated in a Kafkaesque case brought against artists and human rights activists in Moscow. His book is an impressive testimony to the commitment of the intellectual who is dedicated to the values of the Enlightenment and insists on them in his country, in the face of all manner of threat, intimidation and ignorance.
Accolade: Kerstin Holm, Journalist, Writer (Germany)http://www.leipzig.de/imperia/md/content/41_kulturamt/literatur/2007_kerstin_holm_laudatio_koenen-und_ryklin.pdf
Born 1960 in Ivano-Frankivsk (Soviet Union, today Ukraine)
lives in Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine)
Yuri Andrukhovych is presented with the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his novel "Zwölf Ringe", in which we learn about the interlapping layers of a society in transit, in one of the most remote areas of the Carpathian Mountains. Here, as in a centrifuge, nightmares and romantic hopes, the past and the future, myth and magic are artistically spun around together. This defence of the "last territory" on the border where Europe ends is not only an individual declaration of love for a "great European country", it is at the same time a protest and a self-assertive statement against the violence of past and contemporary history. Andrukhovych brings the forgotten centre of the continent back into our awareness and shows us clearly where the centre of Europe is: on the margin.
Accolade: Ingo Schulze, Author (Germany)
Born 1949 in Rijeka (Yugoslavia, today Croatia)
lives in Stockholm (Sweden), Vienna (Austria) and Sovinjak (Croatia)
Slavenka Drakulić receives the award for her work “Keiner war dabei. Kriegsverbrechen auf dem Balkan von Gericht”.
In this, she pursues the agonising question of how neighbours can become murderers. The terrible truths that come to light in the charges brought against the organisers and executors of the wars in former Yugoslavia inspire the author to self-examination of her own generation and their entanglement in the tragedy.
Evil is the absence of empathy – with this insight her book is in the great tradition of the thought-provoking journalism of Emile Zola’s “J’accuse” and Hannah Arendt’s report on the Eichmann trial.
Accolade: Prof h.c. Hans Koschnick, Mayor ret. of the Hanseatic City of Bremen, former European Administrator of the City of Mostar (Germany)
Dževad Karahasan | main award
Born 1953 in Duvno (Yugoslavia, today Bosnia and Herzegovina)
lives in Graz (Switzerland) and Sarajevo(Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Dževad Karahasan receives the main award for his widely varying literary work, in which poetry and philosophy, the traditional and the modern, East and West are skilfully interwoven. In his novels and essays, he brings to life the alien in the familiar, raises the power of imagination in protest against violence, war and expulsion. Karahasan’s work is in the best tradition of European Enlightenment. He believes in the power of tolerance, the ability to dialogue, the role of the word in resisting barbarity.
Accolade: Dr Rupert Neudeck, Journalist, founder of Cap Anamur/Deutsche Notärzte e.V., chairman of Grünhelme e.V. (Germany)
Gábor Csordás | commendation award
Born 1950 in Pécs (Hungary)
lives in Pécs (Hungary)
Gábor Csordás receives the commendation award for his great publishing achievements and his activity as a translator and multilingual conduit for significant European authors.
Accolade: Prof Dr Georg Milbradt,
Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony (Germany)
Hugo Claus | main award
Born 1929 in Brugge (Belgium)
Died 2008 in Antwerp (Belgium)
Hugo Claus receives the main award for his body of work in which he has repeatedly depicted the blackest depths of modern civilisation on all its levels, the violence coming from the heart of society and the hypocrisy in the political world, doing so without mercy and at the same time with a strong feeling for the grotesque and the absurd. His great novel “Der Kummer von Flandern”, throwing light on the apocalyptic dimension of fascism and of collaboration, has still lost none of its topicality and is particularly recognised by this award. The work and the author have become an essential part of the entire European conscience.
Accolade: Dr Joachim Sartorius, Poet, translator, Director of the Berliner Festspiele (Germany)
Barbara Antkowiak | commendation award
Born 1933 in Berlin (Germany)
Died 2004 in Berlin (Germany)
Barbara Antkowiak receives the commendation award for her long years of varied activity as a translator from many Central and Eastern European languages – above all, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croat, Slovenian and Bosnian -, identifying her as an outstanding authority and an able facilitator.
Accolade: Bora Ćosić, Author (Croatia/Germany)
Bora Ćosić | main award
Born 1932 in Zagreb (Yugoslavia, today Croatia),
lives in Rovinj (Croatia) and Berlin (Germany)
The main award is presented to Bora Ćosić for his distinctive prose work which is directed against denial of freedom, nationalism and racist hatred. Always inventive and experimental in its technical form, persuasive in its sensitivity and the ability to narrate world history by combining the horrifying and the amusing, the explosive and the banal, it furnishes a widely varied picture of the end of the 20th century. As a tale of emigration and a documentary of migration and loss of homeland, “Die Zollerklärung” in particular, is of oppressive topicality.
Accolade: Wolfgang Thierse, SPD politician, Member of the Bundestag, former President of the Bundestag, Vice President of the Bundestag (Germany)
Ludvík Kundera | commendation award
Born 1920 in Brno (Czechoslovakia),
lives in Kunstát (Czech Republic)
Ludvík Kundera receives the commendation award for his services as a translator of Czech and German literature. His life and work serve to combine high literary status, an uncompromising political stance and human integrity with decades of effort applied to the communication of two literatures in the respective other language in the service of reviving the European Idea. The anthologies edited by him are key works in the dissemination of German-Czech literature.
Claudio Magris | Award Winner 2001 | main award
The main award is presented to Claudio Magris as an important communicator of German-language literature in the Italian-speaking world, but first and foremost as a writer and journalist who has dedicated his literary work to a culturally historically significant region in the south-east of Europe. Above all with his book “Die Welt en gros und en détail”, he succeeded convincingly in blending fiction into a literary topography of the southern regions of Eastern Central Europe.
Accolade: Adolf Muschg, Writer, literary scholar (Switzerland/Germany)
Norbert Randow | Award Winner 2001 | commendation award
Born 1929 in Neustrelitz (Germany) lives in Berlin (Germany)
Norbert Randow receives the commendation award for his many years of varied activity as an editor and translator from Bulgarian, Russian, Belarussian and Old Church Slavonic, showing him to be an outstanding authority on these cultures and competent in their presentation. In particular with the anthology “Eurydike singt. Neue bulgarische Lyrik”, he demonstrated his skill as a sensitive translator of Bulgarian poetry, for which he has been outstandingly concerned to facilitate and to promote understanding.
Accolade: Fedja Filkova, Poet, translator (Bulgaria)
Hanna Krall | Award Winner 2000 | main award
Born 1937 in Warsaw (Poland)
lives in Warsaw (Poland)
Hanna Krall receives the main award for her body of work so far, in particular for the collection of short stories “Da ist kein Fluss mehr” which sets new standards with its high literary quality. By shaping history through stories, the author makes a significant contribution to European examination of the Holocaust and its consequences for the survivors.
Accolade: Prof Dr Dan Diner, Historian, political writer, Director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig, Professor of History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Germany/Israel)
Peter Urban | Award Winner 2000 | commendation award
Born 1941 in Berlin (Germany)
lives in Grebenhain (Germany)
Peter Urban receives the commendation award for his exemplary translations from various Slav languages – from Russian, Czech, Serb and Slovenian -, but also for his collected works editions that show him to be an outstanding facilitator of Slavonic literature and culture.
Accolade: Norbert Wehr, Editor of the Literary Magazine "Schreibheft" (Germany)
Eric J. Hobsbawm | Award Winner 1999 | main award
Born 1917 in Alexandria (Egypt)
lives in London (Great Britain)
Eric J. Hobsbawm receives the main award for his works on European social history which always also include cultural and intellectual history. Tribute is paid here in particular to his great late work “The Age of Extremes” which is both an academic analysis and a personal résumé.
Accolade: Prof Dr Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Historian, journalist (Germany)
Nenad Popović | Award Winner 1999 | commendation award
Born 1950 in Zagreb (Yugoslavia, today Croatia)
lives in Zagreb (Croatia)
Nenad Popović receives the commendation award for his dedication as a publisher to the dissemination of South Slavonic literature in Europe, as well as for his work as a political journalist and author.
Accolade: Freimut Duve, Journalist, politician (Germany)
Swetlana Alexijewitsch | Award Winner 1998 | main award
Born 1948 in Ivano-Frankivsk (Soviet Union, today Ukraine),
lives in Paris (France)
Svetlana Alexiyevitsch receives the main award for her impressive documentary prose. Her courage in dealing with human suffering, her sensitivity in compressing her interviews into literary texts, account for the standing enjoyed by her books as important contemporary witnesses to the downfall of Soviet society.
Accolade: Maya Turovskaya, Author, critic, journalist (Russia/Germany)
Ilma Rakusa | Award Winner 1998 | commendation award
Born 1946 in Rimavska Sobota (Czechoslovakia, today Slovakia),
lives in Zurich (Switzerland)
Ilma Rakusa receives the commendation award for her well-judged facilitation of Russian, Hungarian and Serbo-Croat literature in German-speaking countries, as well as for her excellent translations of important authors from Russian, French and Serbo-Croat.
Accolade: István Eörsi, Poet, dramatist, prose writer, translator, essayist (Hungary)
Andreas Tretner | Award Winner 1998 | recognition award
Born 1959 in Gera (GDR, today Germany),
lives in Berlin (Germany)
Andreas Tretner receives the recognition award for his fiction and non-fiction translations from Russian and Bulgarian, demonstrating a sensitive assessment of the original and a commanding ability in the handling of the language.
Imre Kertész | Award Winner 1997 | main award
Born 1929 in Budapest (Hungary)
lives in Berlin (Germany) and Budapest (Hungary)
Imre Kertész receives the main award for his body of work so far, with its vivid and great artistic power in tackling the subject of the intellectual and existential consequences of the Holocaust. His bold and rigorous portrayal of the fate of Jewish deportees and life under dictatorships bears impressive witness to the horrors of this century.
Acccolade: László F. Földényi, art theorist, literary scholar, essayist (Hungary)
Antonin J. Liehm | Award Winner 1997 | commendation award
Born 1924 in Prague (Czechoslovakia, today Czech Republic)
lives in Paris (France)
Antonin J. Liehm receives the commendation award for his commitment as a journalist and editor. With the founding of his journal “Lettre Internationale”, he has created a European forum that makes an outstanding contribution to intellectual exchange across linguistic and national boundaries.
Accolade: Arne Ruth, Science Journalist (Sweden)
Aleksandar Tišma | Award Winner 1996 | main award
Born 1924 in Horgoš (Yugoslavia, today Serbia)
Died 2003 in Novi Sad (Serbia)
Aleksandar Tišma receives the main award for his outstanding work which, with poetic clarity and unusual power, reflects the tragic political conflicts during and after the Second World war in multi-ethnic Vojvodina. Against the background of his own experiences, Tišma tells of the wounds and crimes that people inflict on one another.
Accolade: Sigrid Löffler, Journalist, arts correspondent, literary critic, editor of the journal "Literaturen" (Austria/Germany)
Fritz Mierau | Award Winner 1996 | commendation award
Born 1934 in Breslau (Germany, today Poland), lives in Berlin (Germany)
Fritz Mierau receives the commendation award as a sensitive and competent facilitator of 20th century Russian literature for the German-speaking area. As a translator, author and editor, he has also taken on unknown, and in particular, politically non-conformist authors and uncomfortable issues.
Accolade: Lev Kopelev, Writer (Ukraine)
Péter Nádas | Award Winner 1995 | main award
Born 1942 in Budapest (Hungary), lives in Budapest (Hungary)
Péter Nádas receives the main award for his varied body of literary work which, with subtle precision, examines human destinies and relationships against the backdrop of the communist era in Central Europe. Particular mention is to be made of his novel “Buch der Erinnerung”, an emotional analysis and at the same time inner history of our century that has been so marked by ideologies.
Accolade: Péter Esterházy, Author (Hungary)
Swetlana Geier | Award Winner 1995 | commendation award
Born 1923 in Kiyev (Soviet Union, today Ukraine), lives in Freiburg (Germany)
Swetlana Geier receives the commendation award for her long years of many-sided work as a translator of Russian, devoted to both the classics and living authors. With her linguistic creative power, Swetlana Geier has opened new horizons for the standing of Russian literature in Germany.
Accolade: Andrei Siniavskij, Author, literary scholar (Russia/France)
Ryszard Kapuściński | Award Winner 1994 | main award
Born 1932 in Pinsk (Poland, today Belarus)
Died 2007 in Warsaw (Poland)
Ryszard Kapuściński receives the main award for his literary and journalistic work which he has dedicated to the furtherance of better understanding of one another. Particular mention is to be made here of his book “Imperium. Sowjetische Streifzüge” in which he portrays and explains the different ways of life and social experiences of individual peoples in the former Soviet Union.
Accolade: György Konrád, Writer, former President of the Akademie der Künste Berlin (Hungary)
Eckhard Thiele | Award Winner 1994 | commendation award
Born 1944 in Garlipp (Germany), lives in Berlin (Germany)
Eckhard Thiele receives the commendation award for the exemplary way in which he has contributed to the dissemination of Slavonic literature in German-speaking countries. His activities as a translator, editor and essayist are applied to both classic works and the discovery of new authors whom he has helped to achieve success, doing so with great personal dedication and courage.
Accolade: Jirí Gruša, Writer (Czech Republic/Germany)