Germany’s BücherFrauen, Book Women, Issue Their Prize’s Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The second cycle of the biennial BücherFrauen-Literaturpreis – Book Women Prize – will name a winner during Frankfurter Buchmesse.

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

Winner’s Announcement: October 19
Having announced in 2021 that Germany’s biennial BücherFrauen (Book Women), a prize for women in publishing, had made author Mely Kiyak its inaugural winner for her book Frausein (Womanhood), published by Hanser Literaturverlage, we have today (August 4) an announcement of the six-title shortlist for this competition’s second cycle of awards.

BücherFrauen is an industry network for women in the German-language book industry founded in 1990 and based on England’s Women in Publishing organization. The group has reported a membership of some 900 people and says its participants include women publishers, booksellers, translators, literary agents, and others who work in the field.

The nomination process for this prize relies on several regional chapters of Women in Publishing Germany, each chapter being allowed to nominate a book. A jury then narrows down that list.

The figure ‘Christine’ by Kassandra Becke

This year’s jury:

  • Anita Djafari, book publicist, and a board member of the Literature Council of Hesse, German Cross of Merit
  • Maria-Christina Piwowarski, bookseller and podcaster
  • Karen Nölle, translator, editor, and author

This two-year cycle’s winner is to be named on October 19, the Thursday of Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22),

An award ceremony then follows on November 10 at Literaturhaus Erfurt. The winner receives a cash prize of €10,000 (US$11,035), split between the author and translator if the winning work is in translation. The winner also receives a copy of the Christine figurine, created for the BücherFrauen by the Swiss-born artist Kassandra Becker of Karlsruhe.

The Christine is named for the French writer Christine de Pizan (1364- circa 1429). The organization says its award “is intended to recognize the work of female authors whose writing contributes to gender equality and the empowerment of women and  girls.”

Women in Publishing Germany Award 2023 Shortlist

The three jurors had 11 titles submitted by the regional chapters of the organization and have placed these six into competition for the prize.

Name of Author Title of Novel Publishing Imprint City
Shida Bazyar Drei Kameradinnen (Sisters in Arms) Kiepenheuer & Witsch Cologne
Mareike Fallwickl Die Wut, die bleibt (The Rage that Remains) Rowohlt Hamburg
Odile Kennel Lust Verlagshaus Berlin Berlin
Sofi Oksanen Hundepark (Dog Park) translated from Finnish by Angela Plöger Kiepenheuer & Witsch Cologne
Sharon Dodua Otoo Adas Raum (Ada’s Realm) S. Fischer Frankfurt
Slata Roschal Formen des Nichtseins (153 Forms of Non-Being) Homunculus Erlangen
Christine de Pizan

With its announcement today, the award includes a statement about Christine de Pizan as the inspiration and icon of its program. It reads:

“Christine de Pizan was a true European and had a life of two halves: Her childhood and teenage years were happy and filled with all the riches and education available to her at the time.

Christine de Pizan, a detail from ‘The Book of the Queen], created circa 1410 to 1414, manuscript Harly MS 4431, the British Museum. Image: Public domain

“Born in Venice, her family moved to France where her father became the court astrologer of King Charles V. Her father taught her to read and write. At the age of 15 she married a royal secretary who encouraged her to continue her studies. But her life as an adult took a different turn: Her husband died when she was 25 and she had to support herself, her three young children, her mother, and a niece. She turned to writing to make a living and never remarried.”In her most important work, The Book of the City of Ladies, she created an allegory in defense of women, making her one of the earliest European female writers who fought against the negative gender stereotypes of her time. She claimed that women’s behavior was subject to different moral values than men’s. What would later make her notable to Simone de Beauvoir was that she was the first author to reflect on her own status as a woman in a male-oriented society.

“The literary award and its statuette Christine are intended as a reminder of this early engagement against misogyny.”

The program includes a short passage from de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies: “If it were customary to send daughters to school like sons, and if they were then taught the natural sciences, they would learn as thoroughly and understand the subtleties of all the arts and sciences as well as sons.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on women in publishing is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, and more on diversity and inclusivity is here. More on the 2021 Frankfurter Buchmesse 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.