Chigozie Obioma Wins 2020 Internationaler Literaturpreis Award For Foreign Fiction

Recently updated on October 24th, 2022 at 03:01 pm

Chigozie Obioma has won the 2020 Internationaler Literaturpreis award by Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in Germany.

The Nigerian writer and author won the award through the German translation of his second novel, titled: An Orchestra of Minorities.

His co-winner is Haitian writer James Noel.

Since 2009, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Stiftung Elementarteilchen have awarded the Internationaler Literaturpreis (International Literature Award), honouring an outstanding work of contemporary international literature and its first translation into German.

In the past, the winning duo for the best novel and the best translation are honoured with a major celebration in which other authors and translators of the books nominated for the final round are invited .

There is usually a cash prize of €20,000/$24,000 for the winning author and €15,000 for the translation.

However, this year, in its 12th edition, Germany’s national centre for presentation and discussion of international contemporary arts, Haus der Welt der Kulturen (HKW), alongside the seven-member jury, decided not to honour a single book.

There are six titles on the shortlist. Organisers say there will be 12 winners instead of 2, among whom the prize money of £36,000 will be divided.

The winning books are: Yevgenia Belorusets: Glückliche Fälle, translated from Russian by Claudia Dathe, Matthes & Seitz Publishing, 2019; Angel Igov: Die Sanftmütigen, translated from the Bulgarian by Andreas Tretner, eta Publishing, 2019; Chigozie Obioma: Das Weinen der Vögel (An Orchestra of Minorities), translated from English by Nicolai von Schweder-Schreiner, Piper Publishing, 2019; Amir Hassan Cheheltan: Der Zirkel der Literaturliebhaber, translated from the Persian by Julia Himmelreich, C. H. Beck Publishing, 2020; James Noël: Was für ein Wunder, translated from the French by Rike Bolte, Litradukt Publishing, 2020; Isabel Waidner: Geile Deko (Gaudy Bauble), translated from the English by Ann Cotten, Merve Publishing, 2019.

Mr. Obioma’s book, whose German title is “Das Weinen der Vögel” was among the six books selected from a diverse list and recognised by the German literary community.

The novel follows the story of Chinonso, a hardly surviving poultry farmer who stops a woman from committing suicide, his quest for material advancement and the unsettling end to his dream as a Nigerian on a foreign land.

A jury member, Daniel Medin, considered “An Orchestra of Minorities” to be a philosophical novel “of rare ambition and breadth that questions the freedom of the human will with relentless precision.”

Praising the Nigerian author for capturing African religions, which are “firmly anchored in Igbo cosmology” in the novel, Mr. Medin described Mr. Obioma as an innovator of the African novel, also with his debut novel, “The Fishermen.”

“An Orchestra of Minorities” was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2019.

An elated Chigozie Obioma stated:

“The past few months have been difficult for me, following the lockdown, coming down with the virus myself and the recent events. But I’m happy to share this bit of good news: the German translation of my second novel, DAS WEINEN DER VOGEL, has won this year’s Internationaler Literaturpreis, Germany’s prestigious prize for foreign fiction.

While I’m grateful and elated, I owe this win to my wonderful translator, Nicholai von Schweder, a remarkable man and the very best. Also, my wonderful publisher, Piper Verlag. Thank you to all who continue to support my work. It means so much to me!”

Previous winners of the award have included Teju Cole, Indian-French author, Shumona Sinhaand, and Mexican Fernanda Melchior.

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