France’s Cécile Wajsbrot Wins the Tišma International Literary Prize

In News by Porter Anderson

A prolific translator, novelist and essayist, the French-Jewish writer Cécile Wajsbrot wins Novi Sad’s 2024 Tišma Prize.

Cécile Wajsbrot. Image: Tišma International Literary Prize, Dominique Coté

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

Addressing ‘the Silence of Generations’
Now completing its third biennial cycle, Serbia’s biennial Aleksandar Tišma International Literary Prize—which is named for the late Serbian author Aleksandar Tišma (1924-2003)—has today (June 10) named France’s Cécile Wajsbrot as its new winner.

Aleksandar Tišma Foundation

The prize carries a purse of €10,000 (US$10,758). In addition, a certificate is provided the winner, signed by the president of the Tišma Foundation and by the president of the jury.

At 69, Wajsbrot is an exceptionally prolific novelist, essayist, radio dramatist and a translator of English and German literature into French. Since Une vie à soi was published in 1982 in Paris by Mercure de France, Wajsbrot has produced some 17 novels, the most recent being Nevermore (Le Bruit du temps, 2021), which won the Leipzig Book Award, 2022.

Earlier, in 2016, she won the Berlin Academy Prize for Literature and Art and since 1984, starting with Un éclair dans les ténèbres by Abra Taylor, she has published at least 37 translations that include work of Virginia Woolf, Peter Dickinson, and Wolfgang Büscher.

Wajsbrot’s grandfather was killed in the Holocaust and most of her essays and several of her novels, as the prize jury notes, have dealt with the Holocaust “and the silence of generations about traumatic events from the past, in France and in Germany.”

The jury this time comprises:

  • Ilma Rakusa, president, from Switzerland
  • Karl-Markus Gauß of Austria
  • Vladislava Gordić Petković of Serbia
  • Mathias Énard, France, and László Marton of Hungary

The jury’s selection of Wajsbrot is a recognition of her entire canon of work.

The complete eight-author shortlist for the honor this time:

  • Cécile Wajsbrot
  • Slobodan Šnajder
  • Lászlo Vegel
  • Serhij Zhadan
  • Andrzej Stasiuk
  • Tatiana Ţibuleac
  • Aleksandar Hemon
  • Semezdin Mehmedinović

As many of our Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Aleksandar Tišma International Literary Prize works in comparative quiet to produce its biennial winner. Unlike so many other book and publishing contests, this one doesn’t issue shouty longlists and shortlists, and its administration will consider:

  • Work in any literary genre
  • Work written in any language, if published in English, German, and/or French—in all of which Tišma was fluent
  • Work by an author “from any country in the world.”

Literary fiction is the focus, and the prize can be conferred either for a book or for a body of content.

Past winners of the award are László Darvasi (2019) and David Albahari (2022).

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book prizes is here, more on the Young Writer Award is here, more on the Dylan Thomas Prize is here, and more from us on the UK 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.