James Noël and Chigozie Obioma received the Internationaler Literaturpreis 2020 awarded by Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) on June 6, 2020.
Since 2009, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Stiftung Elementarteilchen have awarded the Internationaler Literaturpreis (International Literature Award), honouring an outstanding work of contemporary international literature and its first translation into German. Previous winners of the award have included Teju Cole, Indian-French author Shumona Sinhaand, and Mexican Fernanda Melchior.
In the past, the winning duo for the best novel and the best translation are honoured with a major celebration to which all other authors and translators of the books nominated for the final round are invited. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic still being a thing, this year the organisers have opted to not have a major physical celebration and honour not one but all six titles on the shortlist. That means that there are 12 winners instead of 2, among whom the prize money of 36,000 euros will be divided.
The winning books are;
- Yevgenia Belorusets: Glückliche Fälle, translated from Russian by Claudia Dathe, Matthes & Seitz Publishing, 2019.
- Angel Igov: Die Sanftmütigen, translated from the Bulgarian by Andreas Tretner, eta Publishing, 2019.
- Chigozie Obioma: Das Weinen der Vögel (An Orchestra of Minorities), translated from the English by Nicolai von Schweder-Schreiner, Piper Publishing, 2019.
- Amir Hassan Cheheltan: Der Zirkel der Literaturliebhaber, translated from the Persian by Julia Himmelreich, C.H.Beck Publishing, 2020.
- James Noël: Was für ein Wunder, translated from the French by Rike Bolte, Litradukt Publishing, 2020.
- Isabel Waidner: Geile Deko (Gaudy Bauble), translated from the English by Ann Cotten, Merve Publishing, 2019.
Chigozie Obioma is the Nigerian writer of the book An Orchestra of Minorities which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. James Noël is a Haitian poet, writer, and actor. One of the most important voices in contemporary Haitian poetry, he writes, in both French and Creole, to “empty his body of all words, to move forward and become lighter than paper”.
Chigozie Obioma reacted to the win stating, “yesterday, it was announced that the German translation of my second novel, DAS WEINEN DER VOGEL, has won this year’s Internationaler Literaturpreis, Germany’s prestigious prize for foreign fiction. This year, to support writers, the judges and @hkw_literaturpreis decided to pick 6 winners instead of one. While I’m grateful and elated, I owe this win to my wonderful translator, Nicholai von Schweder, a remarkable man and the very best. Also, my wonderful publisher @piperverlag. They show that an enthusiastic and committed publisher can make a big difference in a writer’s life.”