The Shortlist of the Year 2016

The 2016 shortlist was published on May 18. The jury’s decision was accompanied by the following statement:
“This year’s shortlist gathers narratives whose authors’ and characters’ lives all hover between languages, cultures and systems all of which were then rendered in German by translators who energize their language in a fascinating way, sometimes reinventing them altogether. Alexander Ilichevsky, inspired by the linguistic and mental experiments of the futurist poet Chlebnikov, creates a psycho-geography of the oil-rich frontier between Azerbaijan and Iran. Valeria Luiselli’s work slyly unites philosophy, satire, essay and dental biography. Joanna Bator tells Central European history from a female perspective in an iridescent blend of crime, thriller, historical and family novel and Zeitroman. In Shumona Sinha’s novel, an interpreter in a Paris visa office holds a furious speech about the destructive conflicts between refugees and the civil servants who determine their fates. Johannes Anyuru’s novel is about his Ugandan father who recounts the existential forlornness of refugees. With metaphors taken from photography, Ivan Vladislavić produces a picture puzzle of Johannesburg during and after apartheid.”

The following authors and their translators have been nominated for their work in 2016 (authors in alphabetical order):

Johannes Anyuru | Paul Berf
Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her

Swedish: En storm kom från paradiset
Luchterhand Literaturverlag 2015 | Norstedts, Stockholm 2012
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The jury on the nomination:
“Johannes Anyuru’s father novel, Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her, does not employ the usual father-son schema or narcissistically expound on the all too familiar topos of the vague and uncertain nor the difficulty of rapprochement. As a consequence, his debut novel is infused with an artistic stringency whose allure it is virtually impossible to escape. […] Paul Berf has mastered the translational challenges–the continual changes in perspective and time both–with textual fidelity and stylistic elegance.”

Joanna Bator | Lisa Palmes
Dunkel, fast Nacht

Polish Ciemno, prawie noc
Suhrkamp Verlag 2016 | W.A.B., Warschau 2012
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The jury on the nomination:
“In an iridescent mixture of horror, history, family and the social, Joanna Bator majestically and convincingly weaves together a multitude of narrative strands, layers of language and reality. […] The virtuoso literary derealization with its multiple tonalities has been wonderfully translated into German by Lisa Palmes.”

Alexander Ilichevsky | Andreas Tretner
Der Perser

Russian: Pers
Suhrkamp Verlag 2016 | Astrel, Moskau 2010
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The jury on the nomination:
“Alexander Ilichevsky’s novel Der Perser is a raging torrent of oil that has broken its banks. Full of intensity, unruly and continually surprising […] With his rich vocabulary, Andreas Tretner lends this sweeping narrative, which includes lovingly written digressions on subjects as diverse as bacteria and falconry, a rhythmical power, generating an intricate, polyvocal portrait of a region of the world that is at once peripheral and global.”

Valeria Luiselli | Dagmar Ploetz
Die Geschichte meiner Zähne

Spanish: La historia de mis dientes
Verlag Antje Kunstmann 2016 | Editorial Sexto Piso, Mexiko 2014
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The jury on the nomination:
“On the basis of the dental history of the Mexican Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez, nickname Carretera (motorway) the author demonstrates that, far from being a dogged affair, the presentation of narrative principles can be a quite passionate. The reader can look forward to lively digressions between philosophy, literary satire, essay, anecdote, and dental biography. […] Translated from the Spanish with great literary expertise and accomplishment by Dagmar Ploetz.”

Shumona Sinha | Lena Müller
Erschlagt die Armen!

French: Assommons les pauvres!
Edition Nautilus 2015 | Editions de l'Olivier, Paris 2011
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The jury on the nomination:
“If the truth doesn’t fit into the schema, then language assumes an enormous importance for identity: Shumona Sinha’s novel about an interpreter in a French immigration authority ruthlessly, judgmentally, and devoid of documentary dispassion […] Sinha’s reflections on alienation, the asylum system and its administrators are unique and topical. […] Sinha’s raw prose, with all its furious literary barbs–already foretold in the title borrowed from Baudelaire–has been powerfully translated into German by Lena Müller.”

Shumona Sinha and Lena Müller are the 2016 award winners.

Ivan Vladislavić | Thomas Brückner
Double Negative

English: Double Negative
A1 Verlag 2015 | Umuzi, Kapstadt 2010
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The jury on the nomination:
“In the multiple reflections of his novel Double Negative, the South African essayist and writer Ivan Vladislavić succeeds in combining major themes from the history of civilization […] with moral and aesthetic issues […] to create a profound narrative of the period during and after Apartheid. […] Ivan Vladislavić stages his story without the slightest use of kitsch or sentimentality, which elevates the book into a literary masterpiece, something further accentuated by the excellent translation by Thomas Brückner.”