The literary landscapes of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are home to numerous prizes. Here, we summarise some of the key awards and signpost to where you can find out more information.
The German Book Prize
Launched in 2005, the German Book Prize is the equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, seeking the best novel written in German in each publishing year. It is awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
New Books in German is the prize’s English-language media partner; we announce both the long- and shortlist for the prize on this website.
Most of its winners have already been translated into English: Arno Geiger’s We Are Doing Fine (tr. Maria Poglitsch Bauer; Ariadne Press, 2010), Katharina Hacker’s The Have-Nots (tr. Helen Atkins; Europa Editions, 2008), Julia Franck’s The Blind Side of the Heart (tr. Anthea Bell; Harvill, 2009), The Tower by Uwe Tellkamp (tr. Michael Mitchell; Penguin, 2014), Fly away, Pigeon by Melinda Nadj Abonji (tr. Tess Lewis; Seagull, 2014) and In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge (tr. Anthea Bell; Faber, 2013). The 2014 winner, Lutz Seiler’s Kruso, is forthcoming with Scribe (tr. Tess Lewis).
The Swiss Book Prize
The Swiss Book Prize is awarded every November to an author writing in German who has been living in Switzerland for at least two years. Founded in 2008, it is coordinated by the Basel Literature Association and the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association and is funded by private sponsors. The winner receives CHF 30,000 (c. £20,000) and the four shortlisted authors each receive CHF 2,500.
The Austrian Book Prize
The aim of the annual Austrian Book Prize is to honour the quality and originality of Austrian literature and to give it the attention it deserves throughout the German-speaking world. Find out more here.
Other German Prizes
You can find out more about Der aspekte-Literaturpreis here.
The Bremen Prize honours a single work in German, and is awarded by the Rudolf Alexander Schröder Foundation. It is endowed with EUR 20,000, along with a ‘Förderpreis’ for emerging talent. The prize-giving takes place at the end of January and is accompanied by a literature festival, consisting of talks, workshops, lectures and discussions, as well as readings from the work of the prize-winners.
The German Crime Fiction Prize has been running since 1985 and is the longest-running prize for crime fiction. The winner is selected by a panel of journalists and critics. Two prizes are awarded each year: one for the best crime novel written in German and the other for the best international crime novel. Find out more here.
The Leipzig Book Fair Prize is awarded at the Book Fair in March, with awards for fiction and non-fiction. Recent fiction winners include Guntram Vesper, Jan Wagner, Saša Stanišić, David Wagner, Wolfgang Herrndorf and Clemens J. Setz. Find out more here.
The Literature Houses Prize has been awarded annually (since 2002) to a German-language author by the Network of Literature Houses during the Leipzig Book Fair. It’s awarded for exceptional text and presentation qualities.
The prize consists of a reading tour through the network of 15 literature houses with a total fee of 20,000 euros (as of 2022). Find out more here.
The Mara Cassens Prize, which is named after its founder, is the most valuable literary prize for a debut German-language novel and the only literary prize awarded by a jury of readers. Find out more here.
The open mike promotes the next generation of literary talent and offers young writers a stage, brings them into contact with the literary public and enables them to form networks. The open mike supports young talent on a sustained basis and helps them to develop their own unique literary voices. Find out more here.
Since 1950, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, the professional organisation of publishers and booksellers in the Federal Republic of Germany, has been awarding the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. It is linked with a prize money of 25,000 euros, which is raised by the publishers and booksellers. The Peace Prize impressively demonstrates the book trade’s commitment to serving international understanding between nations and cultures. Never before has an idea that has been developed and practiced by a profession achieved such worldwide recognition. Find out more here.
The Georg Büchner Prize is Germany’s most prestigious literary award. It honours a lifetime’s work, and is awarded annually by the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (‘German Academy for Language and Literature’). The award is given to authors ‘writing in the German language whose oeuvre shows them to be vital contributors to the shaping of contemporary German cultural life’, and is endowed with EUR 50,000. Four winners of the Georg Büchner Prize have since been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: Günter Grass (1965), Heinrich Böll (1967), Elias Canetti (1972) and Elfriede Jelinek (1998). Find out more here.
In memory of one of the most important German writers of the post-war period and winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Cologne author Heinrich Böll (born 1917, died 1985), this literature prize honours outstanding literary achievements from German-speaking countries. Find out more here.
The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize is unusual amongst literary prizes in that it honours an author for a literary excerpt rather than a whole work or oeuvre. Often the excerpt is taken from a work that has yet to be published. In addition, it is one of the most public prizes, with the shortlisted authors reading from their works during the Festival of German-Language Literature at Klagenfurt, Austria, and receiving often biting criticism from the jury. The prize money is EUR 25,000 and is funded by the city of Klagenfurt.
The Alfred Döblin Prize is awarded every two years in May or June and is for a longer, as yet uncompleted, prose manuscript. Find out more here.
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