Denmark’s Theis Ørntoft Wins the European Union Prize for Literature

In News by Porter Anderson

The 2024 European Union Prize for Literature gives special mentions to Bulgaria, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, and Slovenia.

Denmark’s Theis Ørntoft, the author of ‘Jordisk’ from Gyldendal, is the winner of the 2024 edition of the European Union Prize for Literature. Image: Gyldendal, Sara Galbiati

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

Copenhagen’s Gyldendal Publishes the Winning Book
The Danish author Theis Ørntoft has won the 2024 European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) at an awards event in Brussels this evening (April 4) for Jordisk (Earthly), published by Gyldendal, November 2023.

The book, Ørntoft’s second novel, is said by its publisher to be “a far-reaching story about love and work, nature and capitalism, about gold, silver, oil, marble, and the slow demise of the West, but above all about three generations of a family connected across time and space in ways of which they’re unaware.”

Translation rights reportedly have been sold into Sweden and Norway.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) recognizes emerging fiction writers from the bloc and beyond, encompassing the 41 countries participating in the Creative Europe program of the European Union. The prize thus recognizes 40 outstanding new literary talents across a cycle of three years. Its program is intended to encourage the circulation of literature within Europe and greater interest in non-national literary works.

Following changes in 2022 to the overall organization of the prize—Publishing Perspectives readers followed these adjustments—a seven-member European jury now awards one overall winner accompanied by five special mentions each year.

The rotation of nations in play this year meant that the starting field of 13  markets comprised Albania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia,  and Tunisia, and submissions from each of those countries were selected by national entities before the overall jury of seven made its selections of Ørntoft and his five winning colleagues.

Ørntoft’s honor is accompanied by the announcements during the evening’s event of this year’s five special mentions:

  • Bulgaria: Todor Todorov, Хагабула, publisher: Janet 45
  • Germany: Deniz Utlu, Vaters Meer, publisher: Suhrkamp
  • Iceland: María Elísabet Bragadóttir, Sápufuglinn, publisher: Una útgáfuhús
  • The Netherlands: Sholeh Rezazadeh, Ik ken een berg die op me wacht, publisher: Ambo| Anthos
  • Slovenia: Tina Vrščaj, Na klancu, publisher: Cankarjeva založba
Ivanova: ‘Translations and Promotion’

All the nominees in contention for this year’s honors are to receive promotional support, the program’s leadership says, in an effort to provide appearances, connections, and potential rights deals for international translation and publication. This awards program is organized by the Federation of European Publishers and the International and European Booksellers Federation.

Iliana Ivanova

In a comment on the announcement of the winner and special mention honorees, Iliana Ivanova, the European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education, and youth, said, “All works nominated this year showcase the richness and diversity of European literature.

“At the European Commission, we take pride in supporting a prize that helps talented writers from across Europe connect with readers worldwide through translations and promotion. Let’s keep celebrating our diverse European literature.”

Ricardo Franco Levi

Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Federation of European Publishers, said “Congratulations to Theis Ørntoft and the special mentions.

“For all authors-nominees, being on the EUPL longlist is a unique chance to increase the visibility of your book to a professional audience and of course, to readers.

“I would encourage you all to make the best use of EUPL opportunities. And in a few months, the chance for many of you to be in translation.”

Jean-Luc Treutenaere

And Jean-Luc Treutenaere, co-president of the European and International Booksellers Federation, said, “Congratulations to Theis Ørntoft for winning the 2024 prize, along with the five special mentions and all the nominated authors in this edition.

“Their literary work further consolidates the role of the European Union Prize for Literature as an ambassador for the diversity and richness of European contemporary literature, underpinning a message of tolerance and mutual understanding.

“I hope their novels will find the recognition they deserve in bookstores across Europe and beyond, and that they contribute to creating bonds between different regions and culture.”

You’ll find more on the European Union Prize for Literature at its site here.

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 publishing markets and trends of Europe 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.