By Ingrid Süßmann
Each year since 1950, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association has awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to authors, politicians, and intellectuals who promote international understanding and peace. This year’s prize will be awarded to Navid Kermani, a German author, essayist, and expert in Middle Eastern Studies.
Kermani, a son of Iranian immigrants, holds a Ph.D. in Islamic studies, philosophy and theater. His works are published by Carl Hanser Verlag and he works as a journalist for major German newspapers including Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Being very active politically, Kermani took part in the first German Islam Conference and is an important contemporary voice when it comes to German-Islam relationships. He was even nicknamed “the religion whisperer” by Die Zeit. His literary and academic works, such as Dein Name (Your Name) and Große Liebe (Great Love) have received various prestigious awards such as the Kleist Prize, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal.
The aim of the prize is to highlight the book industry’s responsibility to promote international understanding, and to remind us that books are not only economic goods, but also cultural assets. The acknowledgement is neither based on nationality nor gender, but alone on what the laureate stands for. Notable winners of the past include Susan Sontag, Chinua Achebe, Juergen Habermas, Mario Vargas Llosa, Teddy Kollek, Astrid Lindgren, and Hermann Hesse.
The award ceremony will take place during the Frankfurt Book Fair on Sunday, October 18, in the Church of St. Paul in Frankfurt. The “Paulskirche” is indeed a very fitting place for the Peace Prize ceremony as it plays an important part in German history: at this site, the German National Assembly came together in 1848 to develop the constitution for Germany, marking an important milestone in German democracy. The Peace Prize is endowed with 25,000 euros, donated by the foundation’s board of trustees, which consists of German publishing houses and booksellers.