The German Nonfiction Prize Returns to Hamberg in June

In News by Porter Anderson

The German Nonfiction Prize announces a return to Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie performing arts complex in June to name its winner.

Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Christof Jacob

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

Eight Releases Are in Contention
Amid the crush of international book fairs and conferences opening and closing this month, our coverage of various book and publishing awards is running behind and will continue to do so for some weeks.

Today May 15), the German Nonfiction Prize organizers at the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, have announced that the June 11 announcement of the 2024 winner of that influential competition will be staged again at Hamberg’s Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg.

The jury for the prize has shortlisted eight titles for the award.

Since the call for submissions went out, the seven jurors have reviewed 225 books published since April 2023 and submitted by 115 publishers.

The German Nonfiction Prize 2024 Shortlist
  • Jens Beckert, Verkaufte Zukunft: Warum der Kampf gegen den Klimawandel zu scheitern droht (Suhrkamp, March 2024)
  • Sebastian Conrad, Die Königin: Nofretetes globale Karriere (Propyläen, February 2024)
  • Ruth Hoffmann, Das deutsche Alibi: Mythos ‘Stauffenberg-Attentat’ – wie der 20. Juli 1944 verklärt und politisch instrumentalisiert wird (Goldmann, April 2024)
  • Roman Köster, Müll: Eine schmutzige Geschichte der Menschheit (CH Beck, October 2023)
  • Christina Morina, Tausend Aufbrüche: Die Deutschen und ihre Demokratie seit den 1980er Jahren (Siedler, September 2023)
  • Frauke Rostalski, Die vulnerable Gesellschaft: Die neue Verletzlichkeit als Herausforderung der Freiheit (CH Beck, March 2024)
  • Marcus Willaschek, Kant: Die Revolution des Denkens (CH Beck, August 2023)
  • Moshe Zimmermann, Niemals Frieden? Israel am Scheideweg (Propyläen, February 2024)
The 2024 Jury and Its Rationale

Jurors named for the 2024 German Nonfiction Prize are, upper row from left, Sibylle Anderl (image: Mathis Beutel); Julika Griem; Michael Hagner; and Stefan Koldehoff (image: Sarah Koldehoff). On the lower row from left are Michael Lemling (image: Matthias Kneppeck); Patricia Rahemipour; and Katrin Vohland

Jury spokesman Stefan Koldehoff of Deutschlandfunk, speaking about this year’s shortlist, says, “When is a nonfiction book relevant? When does it broaden its readers’ horizons and open their eyes? When does it perhaps even manage to provide answers—both to the pressing questions of the present as well as to the timeless ones?

Stefan Koldehoff

“These questions guided us as a jury in our selection of the nominees.

“Carefully researching the facts is one prerequisite. The other is an original idea that aspires to be understood by anyone who grapples with urgent and timeless questions: How can knowledge of the past help us to understand and shape the present? What systemic deficits prevent problems from being seriously addressed? Why do some myths persist so stubbornly? And is the threat to democracy also tied to an increasingly vulnerable society?

“Beyond all the many possible topics, what a good nonfiction book always needs is a connection to the present. Then it is relevant.”

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, this contest pays €25,000 to its winner (US$27,199) and €2,500 to each of its seven nominees (US$2,719), making its total payout €42,500.

From this shortlist, the jurors determine the nonfiction book of the year. It’s only on the evening of the award ceremony in Hamburg that the eight authors find out which of them will receive the German Nonfiction Prize.

The patron of the German Nonfiction Prize is minister of state for culture, Claudia Roth.

Last year, the author Ewald Frie was named the winner of the prize for his book Ein Hof und elf Geschwister: Der stille Abschied vom bäuerlichen Leben in Deutschland (One Farm and 11 Siblings: The Quiet Farewell to Rural Life in Germany), published in February by C.H. Beck. His work was among 231 titles submitted by 128 publishers, and was commended as a “quiet farewell to rural life.”

In presenting the award to Frie, Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, head of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, said, “The German Nonfiction Prize has established itself as an important platform for nonfiction and contemporary issues.

“The titles nominated by the jury are a panopticon of currently relevant questions. They show me where my world view and my knowledge need to be strengthened.

“This is where our self-commitment as a book industry becomes clear: We want to offer diverse and high-quality content and arouse curiosity and interest so that people are happy to share it.”

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