The winner of the German Book Prize 2009 is Kathrin Schmidt. She receives the award for her novel "Du stirbst nicht" (Kiepenheuer & Witsch). "The novel tells a story of regaining the world. Syllable by syllable, sentence by sentence, the heroine, waking from a coma after a brain haemorrhage, searches for her lost language, her lost memory. At times laconically, at times mockingly, at times uncannily, the novel describes the inner world of the sick woman, and with great eloquence, gives rise through this to the emerging story of her family, of her marriage, of an unplanned, unheard of love affair. The world she reassembles from the fragments also includes the disintegrating GDR, the years between reunification and the beginning of our century. Thus, the individual tale of a return from the brink of death is positioned both unobtrusively and with great skill in the echo chamber of the historical-political era of change" - in the words of the citation from the seven judges. The judges for the German Book Prize 2009 are: Richard Kämmerlings (literary editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung), Michael Lemling (managing director of Buchhandlung Lehmkuhl, Munich), Martin Lüdke (freelance literary critic), Lothar Müller (editor of the feature section of the Süddeutsche Zeitung), Iris Radisch (literary editor at DIE ZEIT), Daniela Strigl (literary critic and literary researcher at Vienna University) and the judges' spokesman Hubert Winkels (literary editor with broadcasters Deutschlandfunk).
"Making a choice can never really do justice, but in the argument about quality, it is not simply unavoidable, but also justifiable, as long as relating to nothing more than the measure of quality", said Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels – German Publishers & Booksellers Association – and chair of the German Book Prize Academy, in welcoming the around 400 guests in the Kaisersaal at the Römer. "The real winner in the case of the German Book Prize is literature itself."
Kathrin Schmidt was successful over competition from: Rainer Merkel (Lichtjahre entfernt, S. Fischer), Herta Müller (Atemschaukel, Hanser), Norbert Scheuer (Überm Rauschen, C. H. Beck), Clemens J. Setz (Die Frequenzen, Residenz), Stephan Thome (Grenzgang, Suhrkamp). She receives prize money of 25,000 euros, with the other five finalists receiving 2,500 euros each. The winner was chosen over the course of several selection stages. In the past six months, the judges have looked through 154 titles, all published between 1 October 2008 and 16 September 2009. From these novels, 20 titles were selected for a longlist. From that list, the panel of judges chose six titles for the shortlist.
With the German Book Prize 2009, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels awards the year's best German-language novel and marks the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The German Book Prize is sponsored by Paschen & Companie and 1822-Stiftung der Frankfurter Sparkasse. Its other partners are the Frankfurt Book Fair and Frankfurt City. Deutsche Welle's support for the German Book Prize primarily involves media publicity in other countries.
Radio stations Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandradio Kultur broadcast the presentation ceremony live as part of their documentary and discussion programmes on LW 153 and 177 kHz and on MW 990 and 855 kHz, as well as on digital satellite radio DVB-S, Bouquet ZDF.vision and livestream on the internet at www.dradio.de. English translations of extracts from the shortlist titles are included in an English-language dossier compiled for the shortlist and made available on the internet portal www.signandsight.com.
The authors of the shortlist
For exclusive sample translations and background information on the shortlisted authors and novels go to: signandsight.com
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