Shortlist of the International Literature Prize: 6 books to discover | Books | DW

Awarded annually since 2009 by the Berlin Arts Center Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Elementarteilchen Foundation, the International Literature Prize rewards a work of international prose that has been translated into German.

The winning author will receive a prize of € 20,000 ($ 25,000) and the translator € 15,000. The winning work, which will be revealed at the awards ceremony on June 30, is selected from a shortlist of six titles.

Last year, the jury decided to distribute the prize among all the nominees, in order to recognize the plurality of voices of authors and translators working in precarious conditions during the pandemic.

This year’s shortlisted titles are:

‘The last’

French author Fatima Daas, born in 1995, offers a first autobiographical novel dealing with her Algerian roots, her Muslim religion and her homosexuality. Growing up in a Parisian suburb, love and sexuality are taboo subjects in his family. When she meets and falls in love with Nina, Fatima realizes what was missing in her life.

The youngest was a bestseller in France. German-language translator Sina de Malafosse is shortlisted alongside Daas for the award.

The English version of the book is expected to be released on November 9, 2021.

‘After the sun’

Danish author Jonas Eika, born in 1991, also made his way to the list with his debut, Efter solen, alongside German translator Ursel Allenstein.

A novel about capitalism and technological progress and praised for its inventive storytelling, After the sun has already received numerous awards, including the prestigious Nordic Council Literary Prize in 2019.

The English version will be released in bookstores on August 24, 2021.

“ Sweet burial ”

Published in China in 2016, the novel written by Fang Fang (best known for her Wuhan Diary) garnered much praise and accolades, but was quickly taken off the shelves in its home country.

The book is set in 1950s China, following Mao Zedong’s land and land reform, through which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) confiscated land from landowners and redistributes it to peasants. During this tumultuous era, millions of homeowners were executed and buried without coffins – in so-called soft burials.

The novel was published in German in April, translated by Michael Kahn-Ackermann, and is not yet available in English.

Chinese government bans sale of award-winning Fang Fang novel Soft Burial

“ Through the sad wood, our corpses will hang ”

Born in Iran and now living in Canada, Ava Farmehri’s novel is set in the country where she grew up.

It tells the story of Sheyda, who as a child was able to escape her repressive environment by dreaming. The 20-year-old continues her mental bursts when, accused of murdering her mother, she lands in prison and faces the death penalty.

The book has been translated from English to German by Sonja Finck.

‘Believe in the animal’

French anthropologist Nastassja Martin’s work of literary non-fiction tells the story of his near-fatal encounter with a bear while on a research trip to the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. Left severely mutilated, she undergoes multiple surgeries and decides to return to where it all happened. With the help of the local Eveni people, she undergoes a spiritual transformation.

As a German translator, Claudia Kalscheuer is also shortlisted for the award. The book will also be published in English on November 2, 2021.


The main narrator of Jenny Offill’s latest novel is an amateur librarian and psychologist named Lizzie Benson. As she becomes obsessed with the subject of the end of the world, she comes face to face with both left-wing climate activists and ultra-conservative preparers.

The American book was translated from English to German by Melanie Walz.

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