The prize–winners of the International Literature Award – Haus der Kulturen der Welt 2009 have been named: The Peruvian writer Daniel Alarcón and Friederike Meltendorf are the first winners of the prize awarded by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and Stiftung Elementarteilchen. Alarcón, who lives in the USA, won the 25,000 Euro prize for his debut novel “Lost City Radio” (Wagenbach Verlag). 10,000 Euros go to Friederike Meltendorf for her translation of the novel from American English.
The prize was awarded for the first time, and in the presence of the prize-winners, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt on the evening of the 30 September 2009 .
Every year from now on, the highly endowed literature prize will be awarded to new works of contemporary international literature and their translations. The award has two aims: to draw attention to contemporary literature across the globe and to pay tribute to the mediatory role played by literary translators. The International Literature Prize aims to heighten people's awareness of outstanding and extraordinary new works of international literature.
The “International Literature Award - Haus der Kulturen der Welt” is endowed with 35,000 EUR of which 25,000 EUR goes to the author and 10,000 EUR to the translator. The prize is awarded annually in autumn in Berlin. A jury of renowned literary critics and scholars select the award winner through a multistage process. German-language publishers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other countries are invited to apply with their recent releases (novels or short stories) and jury members may also recommend two works of their choice.
The deadline for entries for the International Literature Prize – Haus der Kulturen der Welt has now expired. A total of 81 publishers have entered a total of 131 titles. Works by authors originating from 53 countries and translated from 33 languages now have to be examined and assessed.
The jury members for 2009/2010 are: Christian Döring (editor and literary critic), Ottmar Ette (Chair of Romance Literature, University of Potsdam), Sigrid Löffler (literary critic), Katharina Narbutovic (Director, DAAD Berlin Artist-in-Residence program), Peter Ripken (International Center Frankfurt Book Fair), Jan Szlovák (Chairman, Stiftung Elementarteilchen) and Susanne Stemmler (Head of Literature, Haus der Kulturen der Welt).
In a statement about the new literature award, Bernd M. Scherer, Director of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), observes: "Since its founding in 1989, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt has fostered an awareness of the polyphonic and multilingual nature of literary creation. We are delighted to have found a partner in the Stiftung Elementarteilchen, who shares our commitment to promoting international literature in this country. Translation between cultures is more important today than ever; while writers tell us about the complexity of our global world, translators act as mediators between language worlds."
The award was developed in collaboration with the Stiftung Elementarteilchen (Hamburg), which supports non-profit social and cultural projects and Susanne Stemmler, Head of Literature at the HKW. According to Stemmler, “approximately 6000 books per year are translated into German from a total of about 100,000 published works. In this sea of new publications, outstanding books in other languages deserve special attention. This lack of emphasis in German book awards is precisely what we are addressing with the International Literature Award.”