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20 books longlisted for German Book Prize

August 24, 2021

The prestigious literary award recognizes the best new novel in the German language. A record number of works were submitted for consideration this year.

A pile of books in a library.
The German Book Prize recognizes the best German-language novel of the yearImage: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/picture alliance

"This year, the jury had more titles to choose from than ever before in the history of the German Book Prize," jury spokesperson Knut Cordsen, culture editor for German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, said in a press release on Tuesday, as the longlist for the award was revealed.

The jury for the German Book Prize 2021 has selected 20 titles among this year's 230 submissions — works which have been published (or will be published) between October 2020 and September 21, 2021, when the shortlist will be announced.

The German Book Prize jury, from left to right: Sandra Kegel, Anja Johannsen, Beate Scherzer, Anne-Catherine Simon, Richard Kämmerlings, Bettina Fischer, Knut Cordsen
The jury, from left to right: Sandra Kegel, Anja Johannsen, Beate Scherzer, Anne-Catherine Simon, Richard Kämmerlings, Bettina Fischer, Knut CordsenImage: vntr-media

A quarter of the books submitted were debut novels, added Cordsen, offering "a broad bouquet of new literary voices."

Debut authors include Austrian author Ferdinand Schmalz, who won the Ingeborg-Bachmann Prize in 2017, as well as Mithu Sanyal, already renowned for her cultural essays on identity and gender politics.

Established novelists in the running include Heinz Strunk, Shida Bazyar,
Franzobel and Monika Helfer.

The jury spokesperson also pointed out that a broad range of novels had been recognized through their selection, one which features "narrative experimentation alongside realistic novels, the comic and the surreal," said Cordsen. "These 20 books take into account origins and history as well as questions that are of central importance in the present."

The nominated novels (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Henning Ahrens: Mitgift
  • Shida Bazyar: Drei Kameradinnen 
  • Dietmar Dath: Gentzen oder: Betrunken aufräumen 
  • Franzobel: Die Eroberung Amerikas
  • Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt: Der versperrte Weg
  • Dana Grigorcea: Die nicht sterben
  • Norbert Gstrein: Der zweite Jakob
  • Dilek Güngör: Vater und ich
  • Monika Helfer: Vati
  • Felicitas Hoppe: Die Nibelungen
  • Peter Karoshi: Zu den Elefanten 
  • Christian Kracht: Eurotrash
  • Thomas Kunst: Zandschower Klinken
  • Gert Loschütz: Besichtigung eines Unglücks
  • Yulia Marfutova: Der Himmel vor hundert Jahren
  • Sasha Marianna Salzmann: Im Menschen muss alles herrlich sein 
  • Mithu Sanyal: Identitti
  • Ferdinand Schmalz: Mein Lieblingstier heißt Winter
  • Antje Rávik Strubel: Blaue Frau
  • Heinz Strunk: Es ist immer so schön mit dir

Awarded by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association), the German Book Prize winner will be revealed at a ceremony held during the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 18, 2021.

The winning novelist will receive €25,000 ($29,350), while €2,500 goes to each of the five other shortlisted authors.

Past winners include Sasa Stanisic, Robert Menasse and Mora Terezia.

Portrait of a young woman with red hair and glasses
Elizabeth Grenier Editor and reporter for DW Culture