Georgia’s Iva Pezuashvili Wins the European Union Prize

In News by Porter Anderson

The author-filmmaker Iva Pezuashvili wins the €10,000 European Union Prize for Literature in its newly evolved single-prize format.

Iva Pezuashvili. Image: Intelekti Publishing

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

Two Federations: ‘In Solidarity With Ukraine’
Close on the heels of the Republic of Georgia’s presentation of the first Caucasus and Black Sea Basin publishing conference, a Georgian author, Iva Pezuashvili, has been named the 2022 winner of the European Union Prize for Literature.

The book for which Pezuashvili has won is titled ბუნკერი (translated A Garbage Chute) and is from Intelekti Publishing in Tbilisi, which is familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers as the house at which Gvantsa Jobava is international relations manager.

In the book, Jobava tells us, “Mila, who has lost hope for her husband, is planning her future without him, without Gena. Their daughter, Zema, who is working for the police system decides that revenge is the only purpose she will ever serve. Lazare—the youngest member of the family, who follows the left wing ideas—suddenly is forced to give up on his principles.”

The novel is, as Jobava describes it, “a saga about the Simoniani family who fled from the Karabakh war to Tbilisi, in a city of corruption, violence, and dirty politics.

“The story develops in 24 hours, all the conflicts, drama, and challenges pour down on the family altogether,” she says. “And on the top of this, the demons and the people from the past start to awaken to once again remind Gena that if something rotten is buried deep under, there is no chance for a bright future.”

Trained as a filmmaker, Pezuashvili is a graduate of Georgia’s Shota Rustaveli State University of Theatre and Film with a major in directing. He has made several television documentaries and has worked since 2014 as a writer on a series called Tbilisi.

Intelekti published his debut, I Tried, in 2015. His first novel, The Gospel of the Bottom, was published in 2018, and A Garbage Chute followed in 2020, winning the Tsinandali Prize.

Pezuashvili now becomes the first European Union Prize laureate to be named on the new, evolved protocol for the award, which sees a seven-member jury choose one overall winner for this edition, along with five special mentions. The program, involving the 41 markets of the EU’s Creative Europe program, draws a winner annually from about a third of that 41-nation pool.

As you may remember, the change to this new plan and its all-Europe winner has not arrived without controversy, the former approach having

It was met with resistance by some in the author corps, notably the European Writers’ Council, which has withdrawn from its original role as an organizational administrator of the prize in protest. You can review those objections here and the position of  the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) here.

A €10,000 Purse Plus Translation Funding

As the recipient of this year’s evolved one-prize honor, Pezuashvili receives a purse of €10,000 (US$10,678), and the program also dedicates an additional €10,000 to support translation.

Jobava tells Publishing Perspectives that A Garbage Chute has not yet been published in a language other than its original Georgian. His short story “TSA,” however, has been published in the United Kingdom by Comma Press in its The Book of Tbilisi anthology of 2018, edited by Jobava and Becca Parkinson.

“TSA” has also been published in Germany by Verlag Klaus Wagenbach in a collection called Georgian: Eine literarische Einladung (Georgia: A Literary Invitation).

Currently, Jobava says, Pezuashvili is at work on a new novel set between Georgia’s post-Rose Revolution period in the early years of this century—a time of governmental change and confrontation with a class of professional thieves—and now.

This Year’s Competition Pool: 14 Nations

Fourteen nations were represented in this year’s prize cycle, and their nominees were announced in February.

Those nations and their nominees:

  • Austria: Peter Karoshi, Zu den Elefanten (The Elephants), publisher: Leykam Verlag
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Slađana Nina Perković, U Jarku (In the Ditch), publisher: Imprimatur
  • Belgium: Gaea Schoeters, Trofee (Trophy), publisher: Uitgeverij Querido
  • Georgia: ივა ფეზუაშვილი (Iva Pezuashvili), ბუნკერი (A Garbage Chute), publisher: ინტელექტი (Intellect)
  • Greece: Τάκης Καμπύλης (Takis Kampylis), Γενικά Συμπτώματα (General Symptoms), publisher: ΚΑΣΤΑΝΙΩΤΗΣ (Kastaniotis)
  • Ireland: Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, Madame Lazare, publisher: Barzaz
  • Italy: Daniele Mencarelli, Sempre tornare (Always Return), publisher: Mondadori
  • Lithuania: Tomas Vaiseta, Ch., publisher: Baltos lankos
  • North Macedonia: Владимир Јанковски (Vladimir Jankovski), Скриени желби, немирни патувања (Hidden Desires, Restless Travels), publisher: Антолог (Anthology)
  • Norway: Kjersti Anfinnsen, Øyeblikk for evigheten (Moments for Eternity), publisher: Kolon forlag
  • Romania: Raluca Nagy, Teo de la 16 la 18 (Teo From 4 to 6), publisher: Nemira
  • Slovakia: Richard Pupala, Ženy aj muži, zvieratá (Women and Men, Animals), publisher: Lindeni
  • Spain: Jacobo Bergareche, Los días perfectos (Perfect Days), publisher: Libros del Asteroide
  • Ukraine: Євгенія Кузнєцова (Eugenia Kuznetsova), Спитайте Мієчку (Ask Miyechka), publisher: Видавництво Старого Лева (Old Lion Publishing House, Lviv)
The 2020 EU Prize for Literature: Special Mentions

The jurors in the 2022 European Union Prize for Literature are, from left, Georgi Gospodinov, Kristina Pikenena, Vera Michalski, Koukla McLehose, Thomas Überhof, Sonia Draga, and Julia Angelin. Image: EUPL

This year’s five runners-up receive €5,000 (US$5,337) each, with an additional €5,000 dedicated to translation. The five special mention recipients:

  • Gaea Schoeters, Trofee (Trophy), published by Uitgeverij Querido, representing Belgium
  • Slađana Nina Perković, U Jarku (In the ditch), published by Imprimatur, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, Madame Lazare, published by Barzaz, representing Ireland
  • Jacobo Bergareche, Los días perfectos (Perfect days), published by Libros del Asteroide, representing Spain
  • Євгенія Кузнєцова (Eugenia Kuznetsova), Спитайте Мієчку (Ask Miyechka), published by Видавництво Старого Лева (Old Lion Publishing House in Lviv), representing Ukraine

The jury for this year’s round of the European Union Prize for Literature comprises:

  • Koukla MacLehose, literary scout, president of the jury
  • Julia Angelin, a literary agent and CEO of the Salomonsson Agency
  • Sonia Draga, founding publisher of her eponymous publishing house in Katowice
  • Georgi Gospodinov, a writer, poet and playwright based in Sofia
  • Vera Michalski, president of several publishing houses including the influential Libella in Lausanne, and founder of Switzerland’s Jan Michalski Foundation
  • Kristīne Pīkenena, manager of the K. Barona branch of the Jānis Roze bookshops
  • Thomas Überhoff, former editor at Germany’s Rowohlt Verlag and a translator
Ukraine and the European Union Prize for Literature

Prize organizers make the point that Ukraine has been a participant in the European Union Prize for Literature since 2019.

The program, they say in their media messaging, “has worked with the Ukrainian Book Institute to include a Ukrainian nominee in the 2022 edition of the prize.

“Both organizations” now administering the prize—the Federation of European Publishers and the European and International Booksellers Federation—stand in solidarity with Ukraine and, in particular, with Ukrainian writers, translators, publishers, booksellers, and librarians.

“Together with the book community across the world, the European Union Prize for Literature consortium condemns the Russian attacks and calls for the restoration of peace in Ukraine.”

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 78th awards-related report produced in the 81 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

Catch up with all our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions.

More from Publishing Perspectives on international book and publishing awards programs is here. More from us on the European Union Prize for Literature is here, and more on the Georgian book and publishing market is here.

More 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.