© Arne Dedert
The winner of the German Book Prize 2006 is a woman writer: Katharina Hacker receives the award for her novel Die Habenichtse (Suhrkamp). “Katharina Hacker’s novel, Die Habenichtse, retells the story of having and being. Her protagonists are in their thirties, they know it all and yet of one thing they know nothing: themselves. They drift and yet are driven. In a luminous and atmospherically dense language, Katharina Hacker takes her characters through places in history and through the problem areas of the most immediate present. Their questions are our questions: what kind of life do you want to live? What are your values? How should you and how can you act? The novel’s quality lies in resolving these questions in stories; stories that do not make do with laconically simplistic answers from politics and the media.”, according to the citation presented by the seven judges. The judges for the German Book Prize 2006 have been: John von Düffel (author), Volker Hage (Der Spiegel), Elmar Krekeler (Die Welt), Terézia Mora (author), Pia Reinacher (literary critic), Stephan Samtleben (bookseller - Buchhandlung Samtleben) and Denis Scheck (Deutschlandfunk).
“The presentation of the German Book Prize has helped to boost confidence in the quality of contemporary German literature, aroused expectations for the continuation and increased the appetite for new literary discoveries”, in the words of Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) and chairman of the German Book Prize Academy, welcoming around 400 guests in the Kaisersaal at the Römer. The Börsenverein was grateful for this development. “A profession that has dedicated itself to the book must be concerned to promote contemporary German-language literature in every possible way, since this also increases the attention paid to linguistic culture in all its wide range, to writing and to reading, to authors and the entire culture surrounding the key medium of the book.”
Katharina Hacker was successful ahead of fellow nominees Thomas Hettche (Woraus wir gemacht sind, Kiepenheuer & Witsch), Ingo Schulze (Neue Leben, Berlin Verlag), Saša Stanišiæ (Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert, Luchterhand), Ilija Trojanow (Der Weltensammler, Hanser) und Martin Walser (Angstblüte, Rowohlt). She wins prize money of 25,000 euros; the other five finalists each receive 2,500 euros.
The winner was chosen in the course of several selection stages. Over the past six months, the judges have viewed all the titles submitted by publishing companies and asked for additional titles.
The total of around 120 novels was reduced to a longlist of 21 titles. From these, the judges chose six titles for the shortlist.
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For exclusive sample translations and background information on the shortlisted authors and novels go to: signandsight.com
German Book Prize 2006: Press Commentaries