German Book Prize Names Its 2021 Jury, Opens Submissions

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The leading prize in German-language fiction opens its new year of competition with the appointment of seven new jurors and €25,000 for the winner in October.

The German Book Prize’s 2021 jurors are, top row from left, Knut Cordsen (image: Julia Müller); Bettina Fischer (image: Claus Daniel Herrmann); Anja Johannsen (image: Andreas Greiner-Napp); and Richard Kämmerlings. On the lower row, from left are Sandra Kegel (image: Helmut Fricke); Beate Scherzer (image Peter Kolling); and Anne-Catherine Simon (image: Clemens Fabry)

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

Winner Named Just Before Frankfurter Buchmesse
Not to be confused with the much newer German Nonfiction Prize, the German Book Prize is awarded by the Stiftung Buchkultur und Leseförderung des Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, which is the foundation of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels—Germany’s publishers and booksellers association.

And like so many of world publishing’s awards programs, the German Book Prize, the nation’s most prestigious honor in fiction, now is in its winter-reawakening stages, announcing today (February 9) its 2021 jury and opening its submissions period for publishers.

The novel of the year is selected through a multiple-stage process.

  • First, the jury reviews all novels submitted by publishers and compiles a longlist of 20 titles, which will be announced on August 24.
  • From that list, the jurors then select six titles for the shortlist, which will be released on September 21.
  • Those six authors will only find out which of them has won the German Book Prize on the evening of the award ceremony itself, which traditionally is held in conjunction with Frankfurter Buchmesse (this year set for October 20 to 24

This year’s ceremony in the Kaisersaal of the Frankfurt Römer is scheduled for October 18.

The winner of the German Book Prize receives €25,000 (US$30,232), and each of the other five finalists receives €2,500 (US$3,023).

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the prize went to author Anne Weber in 2020 for her biography of Anne Beaumanoir, Annette, ein Heldinnenepos  (Annette, an Epic of a Heroine) published by Matthes & Seitz.

A publishing house has until March 26 to submit up to two German-language novels, and each house can also recommend an additional five titles. Submissions and recommendations can be made from a publisher’s current list or upcoming work.

To participate, applicants must be members of the Börsenverein or of the Swiss or Austrian equivalents, the Schweizer Buchhändler- und Verleger-Verband and Hauptverband des Österreichischen Buchhandels. Books submitted for consideration must be published between October 1 of last year and September 21, when the shortlist will be announced.

The books themselves–formatted as reading copies, ebooks, or galley proofs–may be submitted until June 18.

The 2021 German Book Prize Jury

Jurors for the program are appointed by the Akademie Deutscher Buchpreis, the German Book Prize Academy, which has announced this slate for the new year:

  • Knut Cordsen, culture editor with Bayerischer Rundfunk
  • Bettina Fischer, director of the Literaturhaus Cologne
  • Anja Johannsen, director of Literarisches Zentrum Göttingen
  • Richard Kämmerlings, literary correspondent, Die Welt
  • Sandra Kegel, head of the literature and arts section at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  • Beate Scherzer, a bookseller with Proust Wörter + Töne
  • Anne-Catherine Simon, editor of the literature and arts section of Die Presse

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.

The Coronavirus in Germany

At this writing, the 9:23 a.m. ET (1423 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 2,298,299 cases in Germany’s population of 83 million, with 62,214 fatalities.

These numbers place Germany at 10th in the world for caseload behind the United States, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, and Turkey.

In death tolls, as well, Germany stands at 10th in the world at the time of this update.


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

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 2019 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 also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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