The winners of the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature, recognising the best emerging authors in Europe, were announced on 26 September at the opening of the Göteborg Book Fair in Sweden by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. This year’s winners are: Isabelle Wéry (Belgium), Faruk Šehić (Bosnia Herzegovina), Emilios Solomou (Cyprus), Kristian Bang Foss (Denmark), Meelis Friedenthal (Estonia), Lidija Dimkovska (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Katri Lipson (Finland), Marica Bodrožić (Germany), Tullio Forgiarini (Luxembourg), Ioana Pârvulescu (Romania), Gabriela Babnik (Slovenia) and Cristian Crusat (Spain). See below for more details of the winning authors and their books.
“My warmest congratulations go to all of this year’s winners. The European Union Prize for Literature draws international attention to fantastic new or emerging authors, who might otherwise not gain the recognition they deserve outside their home country. As well as helping these writers to reach new audiences, our aim is to introduce readers to great new European literature and offer them more choice. This can also contribute, in the long term, to creating a genuine European readership, with nearly half a billion potential readers. Our new Creative Europe funding programme will enable us to provide greater support towards the cost of book translations and enhance cultural diversity,” said Commissioner Vassiliou.
Each winner receives € 5,000. More importantly, their publishers are encouraged to apply for EU funding to have the winning books translated into other European languages. The European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) is open to 37 countries which are part of the current EU Culture Programme (28 member states as well as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Turkey). Each year, national juries in a third of the countries nominate the winning authors, so that all are represented over a three-year period.
This year’s winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in Brussels on 26 November, in the presence of Commissioner Vassiliou and leading representatives of the worlds of literature, culture and politics. The EUPL is organised by the European Commission with the European and International Booksellers’ Federation (EIBF), the European Writers’ Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP).
EIBF President John Mc Namee said: “Once again, I am thrilled to discover new talents and I wish to express my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Booksellers are delighted that the EUPL Prize helps literature cross borders and are looking forward to offering readers more choice, more books, more European literature.”
EWC President Pirjo Hiidenmaa said: “Europe needs stories and storytellers, and there is an endless demand for books on eternal topics. Writers bring vital sparks to minds and languages, and only change keeps cultures alive; therefore, it is always a joy to celebrate new literary voices assuring us that culture keeps growing and changing.”
“I am very pleased that our organisation takes such an active part in the European Union Prize for Literature. Thanks to this Prize, we discover new worlds, new cultures, through the work of the talented winning authors. I hope that the 2013 winners will get as many translations as they deserve – it is a fantastic way to celebrate the diversity of Europe, a value we should cherish in those times of crisis,” added Piotr Marciszuk, President of FEP.
Romania will receive a special focus at this year’s Göteborg Book Fair. Commissioner Vassiliou participated in the opening ceremony this morning with Mircea Cărtărescu, the acclaimed Romanian poet, novelist and essayist.
Europe Loves Reading
After a press conference (12.15), Commissioner Vassiliou will also take part in an event linked to her ‘Europe Loves Reading’ literacy campaign. She will meet young pupils from the international school in Göteborg (Internationella Engelska Skolan) who will read from their favourite books. One in five 15 year olds in the European Union, as well as many adults, cannot read properly. The campaign aims to raise awareness of Europe’s literacy crisis and to promote reading for pleasure. Commissioner Vassiliou regularly attends reading sessions involving children, adolescents and adults. The events with children often have a multilingual dimension to encourage them to read aloud in different languages and to highlight the importance of linguistic diversity.
The European Commission invests €3 million per year on literary translation and more than €2.4 million on cooperation projects involving the book sector. The industry contributes €23 billion to the EU’s GDP and employs 135 000 people full time. Books are the second most exported cultural goods in the EU, after works of art and antiques.
Since the European Prize for Literature was launched in 2009, the EU Culture Programme has provided funding for the translation of books by 43 EUPL winners, in 20 different languages, covering a total of 149 translations. The winners also benefit from extra visibility at Europe’s major book fairs, including Frankfurt, London, Göteborg and the Passaporta Festival in Brussels.
Book publishing is a significant part of the cultural and creative sectors, which account for up to 4.5% of EU GDP and more than 8 million jobs. Although these sectors have proved relatively resilient in the crisis, they also face considerable challenges stemming from the digital shift, globalisation and market fragmentation along cultural and linguistic lines.
In January 2014, the Commission will launch the new Creative Europe programme, which aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors, and to promote cultural diversity. It is envisaged that the new programme will have a total budget of €1.3 billion in 2014-2020, which represents a 9% increase compared with current funding levels. The programme will provide funding for the translation of more than 4 500 books; it will also enable 300 000 artists, cultural professionals and their works to operate across borders and gain international experience.
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