Annie Ernaux to receive 13th Würth Prize for European Literature


French author Annie Ernaux will be awarded the 13th Würth Prize for European Literature. The author receives the award of the Würth Foundation “for the fearlessness with which she records her experience in her autofiction and for the clarity of her vision of society and the collective memory,” according to the jury's statement. The jury also remarked that Annie Ernaux writes autobiographically and that the core of the experience was her own, but always used as an example of social and contemporary conditions. “The literary form she applies has renewed the autobiographical writing of writers in Europe and the world.” The Würth Foundation will award the prize, which is endowed with EUR 25,000, at Carmen Würth Forum in Künzelsau in the spring of 2021.

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 Annie Ernaux, born in 1940, refers to herself as “ethnologist of herself”. As one of the most important French-speaking writers of our time, she was recently considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature. How do invisible class barriers that still exist in Europe today manifest themselves? Where does the state intervene in the lives of its citizens? What is the experience of a woman who is not content with the place assigned to her by society? How do you describe these experiences without moralizing? These are the questions Annie Ernaux’s works are all about. “She wants to reconstruct a social time from the impression the world has left in her and her contemporaries,” says the narrator Annie Ernaux about herself in the book “The Years” (“Les années”, French 2008, German / English 2017), which was celebrated by critics and audiences alike.

 Most recently, her hauntingly emphatic novel “The Happening” (“L'Evénement”) was also published in German (in 2021) and English (in 2019), describing how the student Annie Ernaux becomes pregnant in 1963 and, at a time and in a country where abortion is prohibited, attempts not to have the child growing inside of her. “The experience of disempowerment, helplessness and fear that Ernaux’s text reflects is timeless,” the jury of the 13th Würth Prize for European Literature wrote in its statement. Audrey Diwan's movie adaptation of the novel "L'Evènement" won the Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

 About the Würth Prize for European Literature

The Würth Prize for European Literature, endowed with EUR 25,000, is awarded every two years. The jury, chaired by C. Sylvia Weber, Executive Vice President of the Würth Group for Arts and Culture and Member of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Foundation, is composed of: Prof. Dr. Lothar Müller, Prof. Dr. H.c. Ulrich Raulff, Denis Scheck, Marie Schmidt, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wertheimer and the 2020 winner of the Würth Prize for European Literature, David Grossman.

The winners so far:

  • 2020 David Grossman
  • 2018 Christoph Ransmayr
  • 2016 Peter Handke
  • 2014 Péter Nádas
  • 2012 Hanna Krall
  • 2010 Ilija Troyanov
  • 2008 Peter Turrini
  • 2006 Herta Müller
  • 2004 Harald Hartung
  • 2002 Claude Vigée
  • 2000 Claudio Magris
  • 1998 Hermann Lenzermann Lenz

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