German Nonfiction Prize Names its Shortlist for 2022

In News by Porter Anderson

 All told, the German Nonfiction Prize awards a total €42,500 to its winner and to the remaining seven shortlistees.

Image: German Nonfiction Prize,

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

Winner Announcement: May 30
Created in May 2019 by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, the German Nonfiction Prize today (April 12) has released its 2022 shortlist, with the promise of a winner’s announcement on May 30 in Berlin. The awards ceremony will be held at the Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.

From the eight shortlisted titles, the jury will select winning nonfiction book of the year, which will be announced in Berlin on May 30.

The winner will receive €25,000 (US$27,231) the seven nominees €2,500 each (US$2,723).

Not unlike the issue-driven Aspen Words Literary Prize, a criterion of this honor is that the winning title is not only to be a work of nonfiction written in German but also one that “inspires social debate.”

Our readers will recall the program’s announcement in January of the jury panel working with an initial nominations from 205 submissions coming from some 130 publishers in Switzerland and Austria as well as Germany.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, the jury for the program was announced in early November by the Akademie Deutscher Sachbuchpreis (Academy of the German Nonfiction Prize):

  • Klaus Kowalke (Lessing & Kompanie bookstore)
  • Stefan Koldehoff (Deutschlandfunk)
  • Tania Martini (die tageszeitung)
  • Meron Mendel (Bildungsstätte Anne Frank – Anne Frank Educational Centre)
  • Jeanne Rubner (Bayerischer Rundfunk)
  • Denis Scheck (ARD)
  • Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin – Berlin Institute for Advanced Study)

The jurors have chosen die tageszeitung (“Taz”) journalist Tania Martini to be their chairwoman.

Tania Martini

In a particularly interesting jury comment, Martini today is quoted, saying, “Doubt is essential for understanding the present, which is inhabited by ghosts of the past. The upheavals and conflicts of our present attest to this.

“The nominated books offer clever expositions of problems and sharp analyses of some of the fundamental configurations of our time. Some are impressive in their precision and intellectual candor, others in their unorthodox approaches and surprising associations.

“With an elegant and light touch, they help us to understand major themes while bearing witness to freedom and courage, happiness and repression, and challenging world views and rationales we take for granted. They open up spaces that are worth entering, revealing not prefabricated truths, but suggestions for deepening our thinking and tolerating contradictions–suggestions that allow us to look at the world a little differently.”

The 2022 German Nonfiction Prize Shortlist
  • Bettina Baltschev: Am Rande der Glückseligkeit: Über den Strand (On the Edge of Bliss: Across the Beach, Berenberg, May 2021)
  • Alice Bota: Die Frauen von Belarus: Von Revolution, Mut und dem Drang nach Freiheit (The Women of Belarus: Of Revolution, Courage, and the Urge for Freedom, Berlin Verlag, July 2021)
  • Stefan Creuzberger: Das deutsch-russische Jahrhundert: Geschichte einer besonderen Beziehung (The German-Russian Century: History of a Special Relationship, Rowohlt, March 2022)
  • Samira El Ouassil and Friedemann Karig: Erzählende Affen: Mythen, Lügen, Utopien–Wie Geschichten unser Leben bestimmen (Narrative Monkeys: Myths, Lies, Utopias—How Stories Determine Our Lives, Ullstein, October 2021)
  • Ludwig Huber: Das rationale Tier: Eine kognitionsbiologische Spurensuche (The Rational Animal: A Search for Clues in Cognitive Biology, Suhrkamp, December 2021)
  • Stephan Malinowski: Die Hohenzollern und die Nazis: Geschichte einer Kollaboration (The Hohenzollerns and the Nazis: History of a Collaboration, Propyläen, September 2021)
  • Steffen Mau: Sortiermaschinen: Die Neuerfindung der Grenze im 21. Jahrhundert (Sorting Machines: Reinventing the Frontier for the 21st Century, CH Beck, November 2021)
  • Natan Sznaider: Fluchtpunkte der Erinnerung: Über die Gegenwart von Holocaust und Kolonialismus (Vanishing Points of Memory: On the Present of the Holocaust and Colonialism, Carl Hanser, January 2022)

Because of its delayed implementation during the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, this program, intended for a 2020 debut, is just on its second season.

The effort to inaugurate the German Nonfiction Prize was “broken off prematurely,” as the organizers put it, and was revived for 2021. Jürgen Kaube won the actual inaugural 2021 prize in June, for his biography Hegel’s World (Rowohlt, August 17, 2020).

Each publisher could submit a maximum of two works that appeared or will appear between May 2021 and April of this year, when the announcement of the nominees is anticipated. In addition, each publisher could recommend up to five additional titles from their own lists. That group of recommendations comprises 161 titles.

The Deutsche Bank Stiftung (Deutsche Bank Foundation) is the main sponsor of the prize, which is also supported by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss (the Foundation of the Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace).

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 72nd awards-related report published in the 72 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

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

And 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.