The German Book Prize’s 2021 Shortlist: Six ‘Artistically Outstanding Novels’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Said to demonstrate ‘an immense delight and expertise in storytelling,’ the German Book Prize shortlist will yield a winner on October 18.

Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

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

‘Stylistic, Formal, Thematic Richness’
Amid the nonstop international publishing awards news this month, the German Book Prize today (September 21) has announced its 2021 longlist of 20 titles.

The six authors now shortlisted will not find out which of them has won the prize until the evening of the award ceremony itself. This year’s ceremony in the Kaisersaal of the Frankfurt Römer is scheduled for October 18—by tradition, it takes place shortly before the opening of Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 20 to 24). The radio stations Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Kultur will also broadcast the ceremony live via the special Dokumente und Debatten channel on digital radio and as a live stream here.

Starting October 4, New Books in German will feature English translations of excerpts from the shortlisted titles, along with an English-language dossier about the shortlist.

The winner of the German Book Prize receives €25,000 (US$29,344), and each of the other five finalists receives €2,500 (US$2,933).

Carl Hanser is the publisher that has run with the shortlisted ball, being the house behind three of the six shortlisted titles. The other three are published by S. Fischer, Suhrkamp, and Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

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.

Knut Cordsen

Knut Cordsen, the Bavarian radio (Bayerischer Rundfunk) culture editor who heads up the jury this year, is quoted on the announcement of the shortlist, saying, “These six finalists showcase the stylistic, formal and thematic richness of contemporary German-language literature and attest to an immense delight and expertise in storytelling.

“In addition, all the nominated titles reflect on their own writing, plumbing its possibilities and limits.

“They are artistically outstanding novels that, despite the many differences in their topics and writing styles, have one thing in common: each is excellent in its own way and each won the jury over in its own right.”

Since the submission process began, the seven members of the jury have reviewed 230 titles published between October 2020 and today.

German Book Prize 2021 Shortlist

  • Norbert Gstrein: Der zweite Jakob (Carl Hanser, February 2021)
  • Monika Helfer: Vati (Carl Hanser, January 2021)
  • Christian Kracht: Eurotrash (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, March 2021)
  • Thomas Kunst: Zandschower Klinken (Suhrkamp, February 2021)
  • Mithu SanyalIdentitti (Carl Hanser, February 2021)
  • Antje Rávik Strubel: Blaue Frau (S. Fischer, August 2021)

Funding comes from the Deutsche Bank Foundation, and additional partners include the federal government commissioner for culture and the media as well as the City of Frankfurt am Main.  The television network Deutsche Welle supports the German Book Prize in its media activities, domestically and internationally.

On social media, the prize is hashtagged #dbp21

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 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.