German Book Prize Jury Names 20 Novels to Its 2020 Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

‘A diverse range of themes’ and experimentation with form are reflected in the 2020 longlist announced by the jury of the German Book Prize.

From left, the seven jurors for the 2020 German Book Prize award cycle are Maria-Christina Piwowarski, Chris Möller, Denise Zumbrunnen, Katharina Borchardt, Felix Stephan, David Hugendick, and Hanna Engelmeier. Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

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

Engelmeier: ‘A Predominantly Realistic Bent’
Since the call for submissions was issued, the German Book Prize jury has gone over 206 submissions and has announced its longlist this morning (August 18).

Eligible novels have been published (or will be) between October of last year and September 2020. The shortlist is to be named on September 15.

The six shortlisted authors will learn which of them is the winner on the evening of the award ceremony, which is set for October 12, following tradition, just before Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 14 to 18). The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels—Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, which produces the program—says that the ceremony is to be aired live on October 12 from the Kaisersaal at the Frankfurt Römer in the city’s Altstadt.

No information is provided at this point on how this live event is expected to be handled in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, but more will be known as the date approaches.

The winner of the German Book Prize receives 25,000 euros (US$29,763). Each of the other five shortlisted authors receives 2,500 euros (US$2,976).

In a comment for today’s announcement, jury spokeswoman Hanna Engelmeier of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities) is quoted, saying, “Unlike reading the news in recent months, exploring the more than 200 titles submitted offered many glimmers of hope.

“The jury was presented with a panorama of novels of a predominantly realistic bent. A particularly significant number of them make use of autobiographical narration, and titles that deal with historical themes are also strongly represented. The longlist reflects these focal points, but also includes novels dedicated to more recent debates on identity politics.

“We’re pleased that there are also books that break up and experiment with the novelistic form.

“The longlist thus represents not only a diverse range of themes but also this season’s range of poetic forms of expression.”

German Book Prize 2020 Longlist
  • Helena Adler, Die Infantin trägt den Scheitel links (Jung und Jung, February 2020)
  • Birgit Birnbacher, Ich an meiner Seite (Paul Zsolnay / Hanser, March 2020)
  • Bov Bjerg, Serpentinen (Claassen / Ullstein, January 2020)
  • Arno Camenisch, Goldene Jahre (Engeler, May 2020)
  • Roman Ehrlich, Malé (S. Fischer, September 2020)
  • Dorothee Elmiger, Aus der Zuckerfabrik (Hanser, August 2020)
  • Valerie Fritsch, Herzklappen von Johnson & Johnson (Suhrkamp, February 2020)
  • Thomas Hettche, Herzfaden (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, September 2020)
  • Charles Lewinsky, Der Halbbart (Diogenes, August 2020)
  • Deniz Ohde, Streulicht (Suhrkamp, August 2020)
  • Leif Randt, Allegro Pastell (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, March 2020)
  • Stephan Roiss, Triceratops (Kremayr & Scheriau, August 2020)
  • Robert Seethaler, Der letzte Satz (Hanser Berlin, August 2020)
  • Eva Sichelschmidt, Bis wieder einer weint (Rowohlt Hundert Augen, January 2020)
  • Anne Weber, Annette, ein Heldinnenepos (Matthes & Seitz Berlin, February 2020)
  • Olivia Wenzel, 1000 Serpentinen Angst (S. Fischer, March 2020)
  • Frank Witzel, Inniger Schiffbruch (Matthes & Seitz Berlin, February 2020)
  • Iris Wolff, Die Unschärfe der Welt (Klett-Cotta, August 2020)
  • Jens Wonneberger, Mission Pflaumenbaum (Müry Salzmann, October 2019)
  • Christine Wunnicke, Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand (Berenberg, August 2020)

The German Book Prize is awarded by the Stiftung Buchkultur und Leseförderung des Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, which is the Börsenverein’s Foundation for Book Culture and the Promotion of Reading.

Funding comes from the Deutsche Bank Foundation, and additional partners include Frankfurter Buchmesse and the city of Frankfurt am Main. The television network Deutsche Welle supports the German Book Prize in its media activities, domestically and internationally.

In social media, the German Book Prize can be followed at the hashtag #dbp20.

A presentation of the longlisted authors with readings from their nominated books is set for August 31 at Literaturhaus Hamburg. information on that event and more activities around the awards program is here.

At this writing, the 7:27 a.m. ET update (1127 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees Germany with a caseload of 226,804 infections, placing it 20th in the world for cases in a population of 83 million. COVID-19 deaths recorded in Germany so far come to 9,240.

This morning, Andrew Blackman, Gerealdine Amiel, and Wojciech Moskwa are writing for Bloomberg about ongoing concern at new outbreaks in Germany and a wider European resurgence. “Germany remains a primary concern,” they write. “There were 1,693 new German cases in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, the most since April 25, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of daily cases reached almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in the spring …

“Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a meeting of her CDU party in Berlin on Monday that rising infections are a concern, though manageable, and there is currently no scope for loosening curbs. The government may move to restrict social gatherings to close family members for the time being.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on the German Book Prize is here, and on publishing and book awards in general is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

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.