German Book Prize Releases Its 2019 Shortlist: ‘Generational Shift’

In News by Porter Anderson

In this year’s six-title shortlist, jury chair Jörg Magenau says that issues of family relationships and contemporary male identity are at play. The winner is named just before Frankfurter Buchmesse.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Three of the Six Titles are Debuts
The 2019 German Book Prize from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels—Germany’s publishers and booksellers association—has released its shortlist of six titles from its longlist of 20 volumes, named in June.

The award, Germany’s most prestigious of its kind, is to be announced and conferred on October 14 at the Kaisersaal of the Frankfurt Römer, shortly before the Frankfurter Buchmesse opens this year’s run (October 16 to 20).

The writers of the six novels on this shortlist will not know the winner until the evening of October 14 at the award ceremony.

The winner receives €25,000 (US$27,507). The five finalists each receive €2,500 (US$2,750). As we reported, Inger-Maria Mahlke won the German Book Prize last year for her novel Archipelago.

Since the submission process began, the seven members of the jury have reviewed 203 titles published between October 2018 and September 17, according to organizers.

Jörg Magenau is chair of the jury this year, and his colleagues on the jury are Petra Hartlieb (Hartliebs Bücher bookstore, Vienna), Hauke Hückstädt (Literaturhaus Frankfurt am Main), Björn Lauer (Hugendubel Frankfurt), Alf Mentzer (Hessischer Rundfunk), Daniela Strigl (literary scholar) and Margarete von Schwarzkopf (author and literary critic).

2019 German Book Prize Shortlist
  • Raphaela Edelbauer, Das flüssige Land (Klett-Cotta, August 2019)
  • Miku Sophie Kühmel, Kintsugi (S. Fischer, August 2019)
  • Tonio Schachinger, Nicht wie ihr (Kremayr & Scheriau, September 2019)
  • Norbert Scheuer, Winterbienen (CH Beck, July 2019)
  • Saša Stanišić, Herkunft (Luchterhand, March 2019)
  • Jackie Thomae, Brüder (Hanser Berlin, August 2019)

In speaking to the rationale for this new cut of the field, Magenau is quoted, saying, “The shortlist presents six outstanding finds, six novels that couldn’t be more different formally and stylistically and in terms of tone, yet which are united by one great theme: All of them are about family connections, about the place in a global world from which one can understand one’s own existence.

“They describe, sometimes from a female and sometimes from a male point of view, how male identity in particular has become problematic.

“Perhaps the generational shift signaled by the three debuts in the final round has something to do with the fact that younger people have a sharper eye for these issues.

“The jury was united in the pleasure we took in reading these books and in our constructive disagreement. We hope that this will also be the case for all other readers.”

The German Book Prize receives funding from the Deutsche Bank Foundation, and additional partners include the Frankfurter Buchmesse and the city of Frankfurt am Main. The television network Deutsche Welle supports the German Book Prize in its media activities both at home and abroad.

The program has a site here with more information, and you can follow news of the program through the hashtag #dbp19.

Beginning on October 1, you’ll find that the New Books in German‘s site features English translations of excerpts from the shortlisted titles, along with an English-language dossier about the shortlist.

In addition, under the hashtag #buchpreisbloggen, 20 literary bloggers will present this year’s nominated titles. Their reviews will appear here and will be shared across the social media channels of the German Book Prize.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the German Book Prize is here, and on publishing and book awards in general is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.