I feel I've mouthed off enough about my quibbles with the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize "for exceptional literary achievements by authors writing in German, whose native language or cultural background is non-German". This year's main winner is Polish-born Artur Becker (see press release), and the prizes for up-and-coming writers go to Maria Cecilia Barbetta (see my review of her Änderungsschneiderei Los Milagros) and the poet Tzveta Sofronieva.
Becker, who cuts an impressive figure in person, walks away with a tasty €15,000 - and the Goethe Institut has posted a nice interview with him in English. He talks a lot about the emigrant/immigrant experience and about his love of writing, infectiously:
The greatest thing for me is when I can work on a book day after day, night after night. It’s as great as sex or a campfire by Lake Dadaj in Masuria. People who think literature and art are a kind of fiction don’t understand a thing. Literature is reality. Robinson Crusoe is really alive.
Having said that I wouldn't mouth off any more, I'm afraid I have to go back on my word. Because look at the jury's reasoning for awarding Becker the prize:
His texts have given the language of German literature new colours and new shades of colour, while strengthening the close ties between the Polish and German cultural realms in a poetically compelling way.
Argghh! New shades of colour! These dear dear foreigners with their quirky customs, eh? A literary Karneval der Kulturen at which the Germans can marvel at their ethnic minorities like at Hagenbeck's human zoo while celebrating the country's diversity - kebabs! jerk chicken! curry(wurst)! Polish-style poetry! No matter that we only have one (stand-in) non-white newsreader, appalling educational statistics for children who speak other languages at home, and regular racist attacks.
Am I overreacting here?