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European Commission - Press release

Winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for literature

Brussels, 11 October 2011 – The winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature, which recognises the best new or emerging authors in the EU, were announced today at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The winners are: Kalin Terziyski (Bulgaria), Tomáš Zmeškal (Czech Republic), Kostas Hatziantoniou (Greece), Ófeigur Sigurðsson (Iceland), Inga Zolude (Latvia), Iren Nigg (Liechtenstein), Immanuel Mifsud (Malta), Andrej Nikolaidis (Montenegro), Rodaan Al Galidi (Netherlands), Jelena Lengold (Serbia), Ciler Ilhan (Turkey), and Adam Foulds (United Kingdom). See below for details of the winning works. Each winner gets € 5 000 and the opportunity to have their book translated into other languages to boost its cross-border appeal.

"I congratulate the exceptional winners of this year's prize and I hope that they will make use of our support for 'literary translation' so that that as many readers as possible can enjoy their books, in as many languages as possible. I would also like to pay tribute to Europe's resilient book publishing industry which is the world leader in its field, employing 135 000 people and contributing € 23 billion a year to EU GDP," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

The European Union Prize for Literature is organised by the European Commission, the European Booksellers' Federation, European Writers' Council and the Federation of European Publishers. The competition is open to the 36 countries involved in the EU Culture Programme (27 Member States, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). Each year, national juries in 12 of the participating countries nominate the winning authors, so that all countries in the programme are represented over a three-year period.

This year's winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in Brussels on 28 November, in the presence of Commissioner Vassiliou and leading public figures from the worlds of literature, culture and politics. They will include Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, chair of the EU High-Level Group on Literacy, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Polish Minister for Culture and Heritage, and Doris Pack, chair of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee.


The winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature are:


Author: Kalin Terziyski

Title: Има ли кой да ви обича,Издателство/ Is there anybody to love you (short stories)


Author: Tomáš Zmeškal

Title: Milostný dopis klínovým písmem/ A Love Letter in Cuneiform Script


Author: Kostas Hatziantoniou

Title: Agrigento


Author: Ófeigur Sigurðsson

Title: Jon


Author: Inga Zolude

Title: Mierinājums Ādama kokam/A Solace for Adam’s Tree (a collection of stories)


Author: Iren Nigg

Title: Man wortet sich die Orte selbst/ Wording the Places Oneself


Author: Immanuel Mifsud

Title: ‘Fl-Isem tal-Missier (tal-iben)’/‘In the Name of the Father (and of the Son)’)


Author: Andrej Nikolaidis

Title: Sin/The Son


Author: Rodaan Al Galidi

Title: De autist en de postduif/ The Autist and the Carrier-Pigeon


Author: Jelena Lengold

Title: Vašarski Mađioničar/ Fairground Magician


Author: Ciler Ilhan

Title: Sürgün/ Exile


Author: Adam Foulds

Title: The Quickening Maze

To find out more:

Website of the prize:

Culture portal of the European Union:

MEMO/11/681 Memo on Frequently Asked Questions: European Union Prize for Literature


In their own words: What the winning authors say about their books, with short description of each work

1. What I hope the prize will bring me

2. What inspired me to write the awarded book


Kalin Terziyski,

Има ли кой да ви обича, (Is there anybody to love you (short stories)


1. За писателят най-важното нещо са читателите; надявам се тази награда да ми донесе повече читатели от цяла Европа.

(For the writer, readers are the most important thing; I hope this prize will bring me more readers from all over Europe.)

2. За написването на тази моя книга ме вдъхнови мисълта, че на самотата и смъртта, които властват навсякъде из бедния ни святмогат да се противопоставят, при това чудесно, изкуството и вдъхновението; защото те са над смъртта и самотата.

(When writing this book I was inspired by the thought that the loneliness and death which hold sway throughout this wretched world of ours can be confronted – and that art and inspiration are a wonderful way of doing this, because art and inspiration prevail over death and loneliness.)


16 short stories about the mysteries of life in an urban space. But the big city portrayed in the book is not one we would necessarily recognise. It resembles a city in a fairy tale – filled with secrets and drama. The short stories of Kalin Terziiski aim to establish a new tradition in Bulgarian prose of humanistic and poetical urbanism.

Czech Republic,

Tomáš Zmeškal,

Milostný dopis klínovým písmem, (A Love Letter in Cuneiform Script)


1. Píši protože cítím nutnost vyjádřit a popsat krajiny vnitřní a vnější, jestli cena otevře můj soukromý bedeker novým čtenářským turistům budu spokojen.

(I write because I feel the need to describe and convey the lands that lie inside and outside me. If the prize opens up my private guidebook to new tourists of the written word I will be satisfied.)

2. Vzpomínky, pohledy, přeřeknutí, potlačené myšlenky, čas prokluzující mezi prsty, chuť zapomenout. Bezmoc. Nevhodné ohledy. Krev na rtech. Zmar. Beznaděj. Rozpomínání. Houštiny vztahů. Rozetnutí.  

(Memories, snapshots, slips of the tongue, suppressed thoughts, time slipping through the fingers, a desire to forget. Helplessness. Inappropriate looks. Blood on the lips. Ruin. Despair. Reminiscences. The tangled web of relationships. The fall of my axe.)


The novel is both a history and a love story, which touches on moral issues, myths and science fiction. This family saga might also be seen as a collage or mosaic.

The main plot is set in Czechoslovakia between the 1940s and the 1990s and its narrative concerns the tragic stories of one family.


Kostas Hatziantoniou, Agrigento


1. Κάθε βραβείο, κάθε διάκριση είναι μια μεγάλη χαρά αλλά και μια ιδιαίτερη ευθύνη. Πιστεύοντας ότι η λογοτεχνία και γενικότερα η τέχνη, αποτελεί στον καιρό μας όχι μόνο μια διαφυγή από έναν κόσμο που συχνά μας πληγώνει αλλά και η ενόραση ενός καλύτερου κόσμου, θεωρώ πως η βράβευσή μου θα στρέψει τα μάτια κάποιων σε μια μορφή λογοτεχνίας που δεν θέλει να είναι μόνο ψυχαγωγία αλλά και πνευματική καλλιέργεια. Να έχω συμβάλει σαυτό είναι η πιο μεγάλη τιμή.

(Winning a prize is both a great pleasure and a special responsibility. In my opinion, literature and the arts in general provide not just an escape from a world which often hurts us but also the vision of a better one. I think that if I won the prize, it would focus attention on a type of literature which is not only entertaining but also intellectually stimulating. I would consider it a very great honour if I have helped achieve this.)

2. Το Αγκριτζέντο είναι μια πόλη της Σικελίας με πανάρχαια ιστορία αλλά και ιδιαίτερο βάρος αφού αποκαλύπτει σε έναν προσεκτικό παρατηρητή τα πολλαπλά στρώματα της σύγχρονης ευρωπαϊκής κουλτούρας. Η πίστη μου σε αυτή την κουλτούρα και σε κάθε πολιτισμό, που είναι ο αληθινός πλούτος των εθνών, ήταν η έμπνευση γιαυτό το βιβλίο σαν μέρος μιας προσπάθειας να δώσω την εικόνα όλων των δυνάμεων που συνωθούνται μέσα στην ψυχή ενός Ευρωπαίου του Νότου.

(Agrigento is a town in Sicily with an ancient history, of particular interest because on closer inspection it reflects the multiple facets of modern European culture. My faith in this culture and in every culture, which is a nation's true wealth, was the inspiration for this book, in an attempt to capture all the dynamic forces fighting in a southern European's soul.)


Agrigento looks at what happens when a group of people, for whom ordinary life is not enough, meet in modern-day Agrigento, a town in southern Sicily with a long history, as well as one which reflects modern Sicilian culture.

Agrigento is a book that is a hymn to Sicily beyond stereotypes and preconceptions, but also a hymn to the real life we miss out on when we surrender ourselves to obsessions.


Ófeigur Sigurðsson, Jon


1. "Ég vona að verðlaunin opni nýjar leiðir fyrir sem flesta."

(I hope that this award will open new routes for as many people as possible.)

2. Eyða í sjálfsævisögu eldklerksins, Jóns Steingrímssonar, þegar hann dvaldi í helli veturinn 1755.

(It focuses on a gap in the biography of the 'Pastor of Fire', Jon Steingrimsson, when he stayed in a cave during the winter of 1755.)


In the terrible winter of 1755-1756, Jon Steingrimsson travels through Iceland, dwelling in a cave in the south and writing letters to his pregnant wife in the north.

The Reverend Jon Steingrimsson is one of the most remarkable people in the history of Iceland, and later became known as the ‘pastor of fire’. This unique novel portrays him as a young man amid the dark times of the first sparks of the Enlightenment.


Inga Zolude,

Mierinājums Ādama kokam (A Solace for Adam’s Tree (a collection of stories)


1. Es ceru, ka šī balva dos atzinību nevis konkrēti man, bet mūsdienu latviešu literatūrai kopumā, kas ir maz novērtēta ārpus mūsu valodas robežām.

(I hope this prize will bring recognition not for me specifically, but for contemporary Latvian literature as a whole, which is little appreciated outside the boundaries of our language.)

2. Es ceru, ka šī balva dos atzinību nevis konkrēti man, bet mūsdienu latviešu literatūrai kopumā, kas ir maz novērtēta ārpus mūsu valodas robežām.

(It was a profound and abiding misunderstanding about the subject of life and death, the shame of talking about it, the vow to keep quiet, respect for the dead and an attempt to bring them back, remembering them in my own words – it was like meeting with their spirits. And a journey into the depths of one's soul, entering these people through the gates of purgatory, heaven and hell).


This short story collection reflects on different scenes of life in urban and rural areas in modern-day Latvia. Sometimes it is impossible to guess the place or time that frame these stories, which deal with 'big subjects' at the heart of human life. The stories strongly reflect the atmosphere of 21st century Europe, and make the collection one of the most important prose works published in Latvia during recent years.


Iren Nigg, Man wortet sich die Orte selbst (Wording the Places Oneself)


1. Er soll "meine Kinder" zu den Menschen bringen!

(I want it to bring "my children" to the people!)

2. "Die Henne und das Ei."

("The chicken and the egg.")


In prose texts of different lengths, plots and characters are subordinated to the musical play of words and the author reveals and constructs different layers of meaning in her texts. Life is presented as a screenplay with stages that keep changing, while in the process of creative writing it is always “the heart which is her companion”.


Immanuel Mifsud,

‘Fl-Isem tal-Missier (tal-iben)’, (‘In the Name of the Father (and of the Son)’)


1. Hija t-tama tiegħi li permezz ta’ dan il-premju l-letteratura tiegħi toħroġ miċ-ċokon strett tal-gżira fejn noqgħod u taqsam lejn il-kontinent biex tiltaqa’ u ssib postha ma’ letteraturi oħrajn.

(It is my hope that with this prize my literature will leave the narrow strait of the island where I live and cross over the mainland to meet with and find its place among other literatures.)

2. Dan il-ktieb tnebbaħ minn djarju li sibt ta’ ġuvni ta’ dsatax-il sena li daħal fl-armata Ingliża lejlet it-Tieni Gwerra Dinjija. L-esperjenza militari tiegħu, flimkien mat-tfulija diffiċli li qatta’ fil-faqar, bla missier u fit-toroq, iffurmatlu ħajtu u ħajjet uliedu. Dak il-ġuvni kien missieri.

(This book was inspired by a diary I found, kept by a young man of 19 who joined the British Army during the Second World War. His experience in the military, coupled with his difficult childhood – fatherless, in poverty and on the streets – shaped his life and the lives of his children. That young man was my father.)


Back from his father’s funeral, the narrator starts reading a diary his father kept as a soldier during the Second World War. The diary is very scant, almost impersonal, but it is exactly this impersonality which pushes the narrator to re-examine the personal relationship he had with his father. The narrator revisits his father’s past, as well as his own, to look for cracks in this façade, to find signs of weakness and displays of emotion.


Andrej Nikolaidis, Sin (The Son)


1. Nadam se da će nagrada pomoći da moj roman bude preveden na evropske jezike. 

(I hope that the prize will encourage the translation of my book in different European languages.)

2. Roman "Sin" je bio moj pokušaj da odem što dublje tamo gdje se obično ne ide, u srce onoga što krijemo od svijeta i od sebe samih.

(With 'The Son' I try to go where we don't normally go, to explore deep into the heart of what we hide from the world and even from ourselves.)


The Son follows one night in the life of a hero with no name, a writer whose life is falling apart. The hero is a man who can’t adapt to new times and rules. Incapable of finding inner peace, he heads into the warm, Mediterranean night, in the city of Ulcinj, where he meets an assortment of characters.


Rodaan Al Galidi, De autist en de postduif (The autist and the carrier-pigeon)


1. Ik ben met mijn pen van het Arabisch naar het Nederlands gereisd en hoop door deze prijs naar een andere taal te kunnen doorreizen.

(I have travelled from Arabic to Dutch with my pen and hope that this prize will enable me to travel onto another language.)

2. Ik koop alles, behalve mijn onderbroeken, bij kringloopwinkels. In Nederland zijn kringloopwinkels een wereld op zich. Daar moest ooit een boek zich afspelen! Eens zag ik een gebroken viool liggen tussen alle tweedehands spulletjes en zo is het begonnen.

(I buy everything, except my underpants, from second-hand shops. In the Netherlands second-hand shops are a world of their own. Sooner or later this had to be the setting for a book! Once I saw a broken violin lying amongst all the second-hand bits and bobs and that's how it started.)


Geert is an autistic boy and because of the way his mind works, he combines different machines in order to construct new objects. Through this, he discovers his talent of building violins out of benches, and starts a prosperous business by selling them to a German merchant. He combines this business with caring for a carrier pigeon that always returns to him after flying. The reader is permitted a strange but fascinating insight into his unusual, yet pure and innocent, mind.


Jelena Lengold, Vašarski Mađioničar (Fairground Magician)


1. Nadam se da će zahvaljujući nagradi moja knjiga biti prevedena na nekoliko jezika i tako doći do što više čitalaca širom Evrope.

(I hope that thanks to this prize my book will be translated into other languages and reach more readers in Europe.)

2. Knjigu sam pisala negde između svoje četrdesete i pedesete godine, fascinirana svim promenama i spoznajama koje se u ljudima odvijaju u tom životnom dobu.

(I wrote the book while I was between 40 and 50 years old, fascinated by the changes and discoveries that people experience at this age.)


The Fairground Magician tells stories about love fulfilled and unfulfilled, about things that are visible in the everyday world and about values that are perceptible only in exceptional moments. The narration assumes various forms, from apparent realism to various other genres, such as crime fiction, thrillers and erotic prose. Lengold is a lucid observer of minute details and subtle emotional shifts.


Ciler Ilhan, Sürgün (Exile)


1. Ödül vasıtasıyla tanışacağım yazar, editor ve yayıncıların, sözlerimi İstanbul dışına taşımasını ve bu kültürel alışverişin (eğer kaderimde varsa) beni (daha) iyi bir yazar olma yolunda beslemesini umuyorum.

(I hope that the authors, editors and writers, whom I will meet through the prize, will carry my words beyond Istanbul and that this cultural exchange will nourish me on my path of becoming a (better) good writer (if this is my destiny).)

2. Çatışmalar, işgaller, tecavüzler, aşk; mutenalaştırılan semtler, politik oyunlar, insani güdüler, aşk; çaresizlik, töre cinayetleri, üçüncü sayfa haberleri, büyük romanlar, aşk; kader, döngüler, dışımızdaki ve içimizdeki cinler, köpeklerim, aşk; cehaletin yabaniliği, bilimin görgüsüzlüğü, aile terörü, aşk; suçun, masumiyetin ve varlık mücadelesinin içrek dansı, ve aşk.

(Conflicts, invasions, rape, love; neighbourhoods that were refined, politics, human instincts, love; despair, honour crimes, newspaper trivia, great novels, love; destiny, cycles, demons in and around us, my dogs, love; savage ignorance, unruly behaviour in science, intra-family horrors, love; the mysterious dance of offence, innocence and struggle for existence, and love.)


The stories in Exile are monologues by a variety of real-life and fictional characters. Ilhan has a wide-ranging and deep understanding of human experience and suffering, and she is capable of expressing the multi-faceted realities of life strikingly and plainly, sensitive to its pains and injustices.

United Kingdom

Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze


1. I very much hope that this prize will bring me a greater closeness to my fellow European writers and readers.

2. It is hard to summarise in one sentence what inspired me to write The Quickening Maze; I could say that the book was centrally an attempt to explore questions of human freedom and integrity.


The poet John Clare is incarcerated in an asylum in 1840. The closed world of the asylum is vividly depicted – at the centre is Clare’s own fall into madness and the delusions that convince him he is Byron, or prize-fighter Jack Randall, or even Robinson Crusoe. At the end of the book, Clare escapes and struggles homewards towards his village, not knowing that his childhood sweetheart has died in his absence.

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58)

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

EUPL/eu.Ness: Caroline Hayat (+32 2 374 07 05)

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