Arno Geiger receives the German Book Prize 2005

Arno Geiger (copyright Harald Schröder)

The winner of the German Book Prize 2005 has been chosen: Arno Geiger receives the award for his novel Es geht uns gut (Hanser). »Arno Geiger succeeds in achieving a convincing balance between the transitory and the actual moment, the historic and the private, between holding on and forgetting. It is the jury’s firm belief that Es geht uns gut is a novel that tells of the weight of life with both precision and lightness of touch«, was how the judges’ chairman Bodo Kirchhoff explained the decision at today’s prize presentation in Frankfurt’s Römer. After lengthy discussion of the six shortlisted books during which there were again arguments about all the titles, the judges decided by a clear majority on Geiger’s work as the best German-language novel of the year. The other members of the jury were: Verena Auffermann (critic), Klaus Bittner (Buchhandlung Klaus Bittner), Volker Hage (DER SPIEGEL), Wolfgang Herles (Aspekte, ZDF), Armin Thurnher (Der Falter, Vienna) and Juli Zeh (author).

»We have needed an award like this. German literature has long since regained the qualitative standard of world literature, making a prize for the best novel not merely useful and desirable, but for the sake of literature itself, truly necessary«, in the words of Gottfried Honnefelder, publisher at DuMont Literatur und Kunst Verlag and chairman of the German Book Prize Academy, welcoming around 350 guests to the Kaisersaal at the Römer. As far as literature was concerned, Germany was an importer. It was above all the breadth and variety of the German literary landscape that was perceived as confusing by readers in other countries. »This is where the German Book Prize hopes to clear a path and from the large number of new titles produced each year, to focus international attention on the best novel and best shortlisted novels.«

Arno Geiger won out over Daniel Kehlmann (Die Vermessung der Welt, Rowohlt), Thomas Lehr (42, Aufbau-Verlag), Gert Loschütz (Dunkle Gesellschaft, Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt), Gila Lustiger (So sind wir, Berlin Verlag) and Friederike Mayröcker (Und ich schüttelte einen Liebling, Suhrkamp). He receives prize money of 25,000 euros, the other five finalists each receive 2,500 euros.

The winner was chosen over the course of several selection stages. During the last six months, the judges have viewed all the publications submitted by publishing companies, as well as requesting additional titles. From this total of around 150 novels, a first longlist of 20 titles was chosen. Out of these, the jury then selected six titles for the shortlist.

In presenting the German Book Prize 2005, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels – German Publishers & Booksellers Association – is for the first time awarding the best German-language novel of the year immediately before the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Partners backing the prize are Florian and Gabriele Langenscheidt, SPIEGEL-Verlag, the Frankfurt Book Fair and the City of Frankfurt am Main.

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