Ceremony October 12th 2020
Statement from the jury:
“Saša Stanišić is such a good storyteller that he even distrusts storytelling. Beneath each sentence in this novel the unavailable origins lurk, which simultaneously drive the storytelling. These origins only make themselves available as a fragment, a fiction and as a toying with the story’s possibilities. The author ennobles his readers with his vast imagination and releases them from the conventions of chronology, realism and formal unambiguity. ‘Hesitation has never told a good story’, he has his first-person narrator say. With great humour, he counters the narratives of historical misrepresentation with his own stories. ‘Herkunft’ (‘Origins’) is a portrait of a present that constantly re-tells itself anew – with the result that a ‘Self-Portrait with Ancestors’ becomes a novel about a Europe of life journeys.”
The members of the jury for the German Book Prize 2019 are: Petra Hartlieb (Hartliebs Bücher bookstore, Vienna), Hauke Hückstädt, (Literaturhaus, Frankfurt am Main), Björn Lauer (Hugendubel, Frankfurt), Jörg Magenau (independent literary critic), Alf Mentzer (Hessischer Rundfunk), Daniela Strigl (literary scholar) and Margarete von Schwarzkopf (author and literary critic).
“The German Book Prize aims to draw attention to the quality and diversity of German-language fiction. Over the last 15 years, it has become indispensible to contemporary literature and our literary industry. Not only because this prize supports authors, helping them to develop and reach a larger audience, but also especially because at no other time is the discussion around books as intense as it is in the context of the awarding of this prize”, says Heinrich Riethmüller, President of Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association).
The other novels that were shortlisted for the award are:
Raphaela Edelbauer, “Das flüssige Land” (Klett-Cotta), Miku Sophie Kühmel, “Kintsugi” (S. Fischer), Tonio Schachinger, “Nicht wie ihr” (Kremayr & Scheriau), Norbert Scheuer, “Winterbienen” (C.H.Beck) and Jackie Thomae, “Brüder” (Hanser Berlin).
Saša Stanišić receives 25,000 euros; the five finalists 2,500 euros each. The winner was determined in several stages. Since the submission process began, the seven members of the jury have reviewed 203 titles published between October 2018 and 17 September 2019. A longlist of 20 of these novels was compiled, from which the jurors then selected six titles for the shortlist.