Book Prizes

The literary landscapes of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are home to numerous prizes. Here, NBG introduces some of the key awards, their judges, juries and recent recipients.

DBP logoThe 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.

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). New Books in German is the prize’s English-language media partner.

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 Georg Büchner Prize

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).

The Leipzig Book Fair Prize

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.

The German Crime Fiction Prize

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.

The Bremen Prize

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 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize

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.