Frankfurt: Tonio Schachinger Wins the 2023 German Book Prize

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Tonio Schachinger’s ‘Echtzeitalter’ from Holtzbrinck’s Rowohlt Verlag has won the €25,000 German Book Prize.

Tonio Schachinger at the October 16 ceremony announcing him the winner of the 2023 German Book Prize. Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Christof Jakob

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

‘The Political and Social Conditions of the Present’
Here in Frankfurt, author Tonio Schachinger has been named the winner of the German Book Prize overnight (October 16) for his novel Echtzeitalter (Real Age) in a presentation at the Kaisersaal of the Frankfurt Römer, two days before the start of Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22).

Our readership is familiar with the €25,000 (US$26,377) German Book Prize for fiction, awarded by the Stiftung Buchkultur und Leseförderung des Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the foundation of Germany’s publishers and booksellers association. Schachinger’s book was one of an opening submission pool of 196 novels.

In addition to the winning author’s €25,000 purse, each of the five finalists receives €2,500 (US$2,377).

Karin Schmidt-Friderichs

In a comment from Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, head of the Börsenverein, the program’s audience—both live and in a streamed transmission—was told, “Every year the German Book Prize is a kaleidoscope of current topics and theses.

“It brings special, extraordinary works to light and gives good stories the space they need to develop.

“For us as readers, it makes the diversity and liveliness of contemporary German-language literature tangible and, in the best case, impresses us so much that we infect others with our enthusiasm and fuel the conversation about literature.”

The Jury on ‘Real Age’

In the jury’s rationale for its selection, we read, “At first glance, Tonio Schachinger’s Real Age is a school novel.

“The second is much more than that: a social novel that describes the upbringing of its hero Till at an elite Viennese institution where future top performers are prepared for life with reactionary drills and educated middle-class ideals.

“From this repressive environment, embodied by the Mephistophelian teacher Dolinar, Till takes refuge in the world of gaming.

“Schachinger reflects the political and social conditions of the present with subtle irony: brute force speaks from educated pupils. The world of computer games offers a place of imagination and freedom. The text deals with the question of the social place of literature in a narratively outstanding and contemporary way.”

This year’s jury in the German Book Prize comprises:

  • Chair: Katharina Teutsch (independent critic)
  • Shila Behjat (journalist and publicist)
  • Heinz Drügh (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)
  • Melanie Muhl (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
  • Lisa Schumacher (bookshop “Steinmetz’sche Buchhandlung”, Offenbach)
  • Florian Valerius (bookshop “Gegenlicht Buchhandlung”, Trier)
  • Matthias Weichelt (Sense and Form literary journal)
The 2023 German Book Prize Shortlist

Image: Börsenverein

Title Author Publisher and/or Imprint
Muna oder Die Hälfte des Lebens Terézia Mora Verlagsgruppe Random House / Luchterhand Literaturverlag
Vatermal Necati Öziri Ullstein / Claassen
Die Möglichkeit von Glück Anne Rabe Klett-Cotta
Echtzeitalter Tonio Schachinger Holtzbrinck / Rowohlt Verlag
Maman Sylvie Schenk Carl Hanser Verlag
Drifter Ulrike Sterblich Holtzbrinck / Rowohlt Verlag

The main sponsor of the German Book Prize is the Deutsche Bank Foundation. Other partners are Frankfurt Book Fair and the city of Frankfurt am Main.

Deutsche Welle supports the German Book Prize in its media work at home and abroad.

A programming note: In the 2023 edition of our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurter Buchmesse, we’ll welcome a group of diverse independent publishers from several international markets to compare and contrast the issues and challenges they see in the field of independent publishing this season. 

That session will feature:

  • Sharky Chen, founder, Comma Books, and president, Indie Publishers Association of Taiwan
  • Tom Kraushaar, publishing director, Klett-Cotta — Germany
  • Sevani Matos, president, Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) and general director of VR Editora
  • Otieno Polycarp, Sol Kids Africa — Kenya


That session is set for 11 a.m. on Frankfurt Wednesday, October 18, in Room Spektrum, Level 2 at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center. More information on that and our other programming at Publishing Perspectives Forum–all free to Frankfurt trade visitors and exhibitors–is here.

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.

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.

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