Uwe Tellkamp wins the German Book Prize 2008 for his novel "Der Turm"

© Claus Setzer

The winner of the German Book Prize 2008 is Uwe Tellkamp who receives the award for his novel "Der Turm" (Suhrkamp). "In a whole host of scenes, images and linguistic styles, Uwe Tellkamp's great pre-changeover novel "Der Turm" creates the panorama of a society staggering towards its end. Through the lives of a middle-class Dresden family, he tells of conformity and of resistance within a system that has run its course. The novel is set in very different milieus, among school students, doctors, the literati and political cadres. Uwe Tellkamp sends his rebellious hero Christian Hoffmann on a journey through hell, from his middle-class enclave to military service and the penal system of the People's Army. As never before, the reader is given a true sense of the flavours, ways of speaking and mentalities in the final days of the GDR. Events march inexorably towards 9 November", in the words of the citation from the seven judges. The judges for the German Book Prize 2008 are: Rainer Moritz (director of the Literaturhaus, Hamburg, and spokesman for the judges), Christoph Bartmann (director of the Goethe-Institut’s Culture and Information Department), Martin Ebel (culture editor at the Tages-Anzeiger, Zürich), Meike Fessmann (freelance critic), Jens Jessen (head of the feature section at DIE ZEIT), Manfred Keiper (owner of the bookshop “andere Buchhandlung”, Rostock), and Michael Schmitt (editor, “Kulturzeit” 3sat).

"The judges are required to choose the best novel of the year, and they have approached this almost insoluble task with gravity and passion. In the end, after intense discussions, the decision was taken with great agreement – a result that does not happen very often when judges get together", says their spokesman Rainer Moritz. "At a time when balance sheets are revealed by the dozen to be false and much extolled boom times prove to be the result of artificial machinations, anyone who cares about German-language literature and in particular the German-language novel can take stock of new publications in recent years and arrive at both an honest and a gratifying result: the German novel lives, it is more alive than ever!", in the words of Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the Börsenverein des deutschen Buchhandels - German Publishers & Booksellers Association – and chairman of the German Book Prize Academy, welcoming around 400 guests in the Kaisersaal at the Römer.

Uwe Tellkamp won through against: Dietmar Dath (Die Abschaffung der Arten, Surhkamp), Sherko Fatah (Das dunkle Schiff, Jung und Jung), Iris Hanika (Treffen sich zwei, Droschl), Rolf Lappert (Nach Hause schwimmen, Hanser) and Ingo Schulze (Adam und Evelyn, Berlin Verlag). He receives prize money of 25,000 euros; the other five finalists receive 2,500 euros each. Over the past six months, the judges have looked through all the submissions from publishing companies and requested additional titles. From those 161 novels, a longlist of 19 titles was drawn up. From that selection, the judges chose six titles for the shortlist.

With the German Book Prize 2008, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels marks the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair with its award for the year's best German-language novel. The German Book Prize is backed by Paschen & Companie and the 1822-Stiftung der Frankfurter Sparkasse. Other partners are the Frankfurt Book Fair and Frankfurt City. Deutsche Welle primarily supports the German Book Prize with media publicity in other countries.

Readers and experts discuss and assess the shortlist titles in the online "Lesesaal" of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at http://www.faz/net/buchpreis2008. The English-language page of the culture magazine perlentaucher.de, signandsight.com, presents English translations of extracts from the titles nominated for the German Book Prize shortlist. Dossiers are also included with biographies of the authors, pictures and brief summaries of the novels, plus the title covers.

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English Samples of the shortlisted novels

For exclusive sample translations and background information on the shortlisted authors and novels go to: signandsight.com


 

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