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As the Frankfurt Book Fair kicks off, Germany's prestigious literary prize has been awarded to Anne Weber for her novel "Annette, ein Heldinnenepos." She beat a record number of nominations to become this year's winner.
The Foundation for Book Culture and the Promotion of Reading of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association announced on Monday that Anne Weber had won the 2020 German Book Prize.
The winner was announced just before the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair. A record 206 submissions were considered overall, including several big literary names.
Anne Weber's Annette, ein Heldinnenepos ("Annette, an Epic of a Heroine"), is a biographical epic portraying Anne Beaumanoir. Born in 1923 in Brittany, she was "a member of the communist resistance as a teenager, rescuer of two Jewish youths, a neurophysiologist in Marseille after the war, sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1959 for her involvement in the Algerian independence movement."
"The power of Anne Weber's story is equal to the power of her heroine: It is breathtaking how fresh the old form of the epic sounds here and with what lightness Weber condenses the life story of French resistance fighter Anne Beaumanoir into a novel about courage, resistance and the struggle for freedom," the jury said in its decision.
Twenty novels made the longlist, which was then narrowed down to a shortlist of six finalists. These novels discussed themes of identity, history and fantasy and one epic. None of the bigger literary stars made it onto the shortlist.
The 2019 winner was Sasa Stanisic, who received the award for his book Herkunft (Origin).
The jury of the German Book Prize 2020, from left to right: Maria-Christina Piwowarski, Chris Möller, Denise Zumbrunnen, Katharina Borchardt, Felix Stephan, David Hugendick, Hanna Engelmeier
The accolade celebrates literary achievements by awarding €25,000 ($29,700) every year to the best German-language novel. The award aims to "draw attention beyond national borders to authors writing in German, to reading and to the keynote medium of the book,” according to the German Book Prize Academy's website.
Founded in 2005, the prize is seen as the German equivalent to the UK's Booker Prize or France's Prix Goncourt.
The five other authors who make the shortlist are awarded €2,500 each.
The German Book Prize jury is made up of members of the book and media industry chosen yearly by members of the German Book Prize Academy.