Thursday, 23 July 2009

New Jury for Leipzig Prize

I like to take an interest in who chooses the books that win awards, and the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair has just announced its new jury. The award is probably German literature's second most important for single titles after the German Book Prize, but goes further with categories for fiction, non-fiction and translation.

I like the look of the new wielders of power. Now chaired by Verena Auffermann (scroll down), they're a surprisingly youngish bunch. Or maybe I'm just old. There's my fave critic Ina Hartwig, the man with the impressive hair Volker Weidermann, plus Elmar Krekeler and Kristina Maidt-Zinke - both of whom have very resounding names, don't you agree?

The new kids on the block are Adam Soboczynski and Jens Bisky. You can read an extract from Soboczynski's latest book The Art of Parting Gently with Female Admirers on Litrix (trans. Zaia Alexander). He's a bit of a cosmopolitan, hailing from Poland and studying in Bonn, Berkeley and Saint Andrews. And he's younger than me!

And Bisky has my admiration (female or not) for pissing off Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Bisky revealed the name of the anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin after Enzensberger published it, as the Guardian reported. Bisky felt the book should be judged as a work of history and so we need to know who wrote it to treat it as a reliable source. Of course Enzensberger republished it after her death, as she had prohibited publication during her lifetime. Which kind of makes both of them look pretty shabby if you ask me. Incidentally, City-Lit Berlin should include a passage from the book itself, in case you want a taster before you go whole hog and buy the translation. Just to get a quick plug in there.

So we can expect a bumper crop of resoundingly named, well-coiffed, irreverent and cosmopolitan young winners at Leipzig next year. I can hardly wait.

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