Eleven authors have been awarded the 2010 European Union Prize for Literature during a gala ceremony this evening at the Royal Flemish Theatre (KVS) in Brussels. The European Union Prize for Literature puts the spotlight on new and emerging authors. This year's eleven winners were selected by national juries in Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Each winner has made a statement about what the Prize means to them (see below).
The prizes have been awarded by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, together with Doris Pack, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Committee on Education and Culture, and Fadila Laanan, Minister for Culture of the French Community of Belgium, representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The aim of the European Union Prize for Literature is to increase the visibility of the authors outside their home country. Each winner receives € 5,000 and their books are given priority for support from the EU's literary translation funding scheme. The works of 7 of the 12 award winners in 2009 have already been translated. The winners also benefit from other promotional activities, including publicity at the Frankfurt Bookfair.
The 2010 winners are:
- Belgium: Peter Terrin, De Bewaker - The Guard (2009), De Arbeiderspers;
- Cyprus: Myrto Azina Chronide, To Peirama - The experiment (2009), Armida Publications;
- Denmark: Adda Djørup, Den mindste modstand - The least resistance (2009), Samleren;
- Estonia: Tiit Aleksejev, Palveränd - The Pilgrimage (2008), Varrak;
- Finland: Riku Korhonen, Lääkäriromaani - Doctor Novel (2008), Sammakko;
- Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia: Goce Smilevsk, Сестрата на Зигмунд Фројд (2007), Kultura;
- Germany: Iris Hanik, Das Eigentliche - The Bottom Line (2010), Droschl Verlag;
- Luxembourg: Jean Back, Amateur (2009), Ultimomondo;
- Romania: Răzvan Rădulescu, Teodosie cel Mic - Theodosius the Small (2006), Polirom;
- Slovenia: Nataša Kramberger, Nebesa v Robidah - Heaven in a blackberry bush: novel in stories (2007), Javni sklad RSza ljubiteljske dejavnosti.
- Spain: Raquel Martínez-Gómez, Sombros de unicornio - Shadows of the unicorn (2007), Algaida Editores.
The European book sector is an important driver of creativity, growth and jobs in the EU, with sales revenues of € 40 billion per annum.
The European Union Prize for Literature is awarded to authors from 35 countries over a three-year period. In 2009, the winners came from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden. Next year, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Serbia, The Netherlands, Turkey and United Kingdom will be up.
The Prize is organised jointly by the European Commission, the European Writers' Council, the Federation of European Publishers and the European Booksellers Federation. The Prize is co-funded through the EU Culture Programme which also offers funding for the translation of literary works. Since 2007, it has provided € 8.5 million for the translation of 1,500 books.
What does the Prize mean to the winning authors?
Peter Terrin, Belgium: "I can only feel flattered, because there are quite a few excellent writers in Belgium. The distinguished jury must have felt The Guard is a novel that could and should be read across Europe. Who am I to disagree? I hope the next couple of years will prove us right";
Myrto Azina Chronides, Cyprus: "I have always regarded literature as an inner need to communicate my world to others. Literature is a continuous process of opening gates in the core substance of the human mind and soul, inviting the reader to enter and become a part of the writer. The Prize is the key opening the biggest gate. Through this Prize, barriers and borders vanish. I will use the same key as well to discover the social, cultural and religious background of other writers. The Prize encourages the right to expression and dissemination of ideas without frontiers. It promotes linguistic diversity and stresses also common values and roots. This prize is a European investment in literature and made me proud of being a European citizen";
Adda Djørup, Denmark: "I'm very happy about the Prize and grateful to the jury who selected me. I'm very idealistic about literature as a key to understanding amongst individuals and cultures, and see the promotion of literature as a very useful tool in the ongoing process of developing and maintaining democracy. And democracy is never home safe, not in Europe, not in the rest of the world. I hope that the EU Prize for Literature will help make a lot of books known and accessible to many readers throughout the world";
Tiit Aleksejev, Estonia: "This means a lot. As an author, it is nice to see that your stories have some response. As an historian, at least by education, I feel certain attraction towards idea of Europe, this dream of Charlemagne, which has been surprisingly resistant through the centuries. So the fact that this literary prize is called “European” has an extra meaning for me. There is Estonian writer Karl Ristikivi who said sometimes in 1960s that Europe is like a cathedral, something to be constructed and protected at the same time. And it is not about the bargain and the profit. Good point and still valid";
Riku Korhonen, Finland: "Winning something is usually a slight embarrassment for us Finns, or at least we have to pretend publicly that it is. I guess we still have a strong ideal of egalitarian modesty in our culture that we are slowly growing out of. But I must honestly say that when I heard the news about winning the Prize it made me smile. I look very much forward to meeting my European colleagues. And I feel that this prize will inspire me with the book I’m currently writing";
Goce Smilevski, Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia: "The books begin their multiple lives in the hands of the readers. As the mission of the European Union Prize for Literature is to promote the circulation of European literature, being awarded with it for me is both an honour and a joy. It is an honour, as it places my novel "Sigmund Freud Sister" among other European contemporary works of fiction, and it is a joy because it will help my novel to begin to live a life in different languages, with readers from different countries and cultures";
Iris Hanika, Germany: "I am happy to see my work appreciated in a European context";
Jean Back, Luxembourg: "Sitting in my room in Luxembourg, in front of the screen, feeling sometimes like sitting on a lemon tree, going to imagine stories, dealing with Luxembourg and German languages...when the news of the Prizee arrived, it was simply amazing! Now, as an emerging author, I'm really embarrassed: I'm not sure if I ever will be allowed to take breath and stop writing one day. But seriously: This Prize is a very strong encouragement to my writing activities. I want to dedicate it to my friend, mentor and author Roger Manderscheid who died last June. I'm sure he would have appreciated, too";
Răzvan Rădulescu, Romania: "One week after the official announcement of the prize, I got contacted by the Romanian editor of my book and I was proposed a second edition. I have to admit that some discussions prior to that existed - since the book was sold out - but this time I was able to bring into the negotiations the idea I always had: a hard cover edition with drawings. There might be a connection with the Prize or it might just be a happy coincidence, I will never know since I will never ask. I also received phone calls from friends I didn't hear from in years and I was glad to find out that they read the book and liked it. When I wrote it, I wrote it with them in mind";
Nataša Kramberger, Slovenia: "Today I stand on the highest balcony in the neighbourhood; 10th floor, amazing view, my block of flats is old, greyish and without heating, but it has a quick elevator and offers first- class horizons. I am visiting Canetti’s Ruse, Bulgaria. I have never read Bulgarian before. You have never read Slovenian before. And all these languages, melodies, beauties are here, with me, on the highest balcony in the neighbourhood, because of the EU Prize for Literature. Macedonian. German. Slovenian. Spanish. Hand in hand, big, small, and different as they might be. Amazing view, first-class horizons. Thank you";
Raquel Martínez Gómez, Spain: "This acknowledgment revives my hopes and reinforces my commitment to literature. It is true that creativity runs its own course through life, work and learning, and I am driven to write because it is my chosen way of expression; but, as regards publishing and promotion, it is also true that the prize is a tremendous support and it offers the opportunity of translation into other languages. Thus, it means Shadows of the Unicorn has the possibility of reaching a much wider, European audience".
Find out more:
Video message by Commissioner Vassiliou;
EUPL on the European commission's culture portal, Directorate-General for Education and Culture.