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Finalists Announced for German Book Prize

DW staff (kc)
September 15, 2006

The search for this year's best German language novel is underway. On Sept. 12 the jury announced its eagerly awaited shortlist for the German Book Prize.

Austrian author Arno Geiger was the 2005 winnerImage: picture-alliance/dpa

"After a lively and passionate session the jury has managed to arrive at a surprisingly amicable -- but by no means unanimous -- decision on the six titles for the shortlist," said Volker Hage, literary critic and speaker for the German Book Prize jury.

The jury changes each year and the members this year include authors John von Düffel and Terezia Mora, literary critics Elmar Krekeler and Pia Reinacher, as well as the TV literary editor Denis Scheck and bookseller Stephan Samtleben.

They had the daunting task of selecting the best novel published in Germany between Oct. 1, 2005 and Sept. 12, 2006.

"We have read our way through a mountain of novels and even asked for more titles in addition to those nominated by the publishing companies since we didn't want to be limited to the initial choices," said Hage.

The jury members had five months to narrow a list of 120 serious contenders down to 20, and then to six.

The novels nominated for the shortlist are (in alphabetical order of authors):

  • Katharina Hacker: "Die Habenichtse" (Have-nots) (Suhrkamp, March 2006)
  • Thomas Hettche: "Woraus wir gemacht sind" (What We’re Made Of) (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, August 2006)
  • Ingo Schulze: "Neue Leben" (New Lives) (Berlin Verlag, October 2005)
  • Sasa Stanisic: "Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert" (How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone) (Luchterhand, September 2006)
  • Ilija Trojanow: "Der Weltensammler" (The Collector of Worlds) (Hanser, March 2006)
  • Martin Walser: "Angstblüte" (Blossoms of Fear) (Rowohlt, July 2006)

Other books by the short-listed authors

Since the works eligible for the German Book Prize have to be very recent publications, most are not yet available in English. But five of the authors on the 2006 shortlist have had some of their previous works translated into English:

  • Katharina Hacker: "The Lifeguard" and "Morpheus"
  • Thomas Hettche: "The Arbogast Case"
  • Ingo Schulze: "33 Moments of Happiness" and "Simple Stories"
  • Ilija Trojanow: "Along the Ganges"
  • Martin Walser: About a dozen of his earlier works have been published in English and many other languages. Among them are "Halftime," "The Rabbit Race," "Runaway Horse," "Swan Villa," "The Unicorn," "Beyond all Love," "The Inner Man," "Letter to Lord Liszt," "Breakers" and "No Man's Land"

Awards Ceremony on Oct. 2

The winner of the German Book Prize won't be announced until the awards ceremony. One lucky author will go home with 25,000 euros ($31,800), five finalists will receive 2,500 euros each.

This high-profile fiction competition was founded in 2005 to give contemporary German literature a boost in an increasingly tough overseas market.

"The German Book Prize will draw international attention to our outstanding novels," said Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the German Booksellers Association and head of the German Book Prize Academy.

The announcement of the winner is timed for the eve of the most important event in the international literary calendar, the Frankfurt Book Fair. The prize presentation ceremony will take place in Frankfurt’s Römer city hall on Oct. 2, 2006.

Deutsche Welle supports the German Book Prize primarily with media activities abroad.