David Grossman receives 12th Würth Prize for European Literature


Israeli writer David Grossman was awarded the 12th Würth Prize for European Literature on 23 September. The Würth Foundation honored the author during a Skype presentation ceremony, as Mr. Grossman was unable to travel from Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jury, consisting of chair Harald Unkelbach, Anna Maria Carpi, Harald Hartung, Sigrid Löffler, Péter Nádas, Christoph Ransmayr, Denis Scheck and Jürgen Wertheimer, argued in its decision that “his moral integrity, incorruptibility and courage have made David Grossman a voice from Israel that is heard throughout the world”.

“Grossman's literary work is not only devoted to the lost and destroyed Jewish world of Eastern Europe. With equal intensity, he also deals with modern Israel”, the jury continued. The jury considers awarding the prize to the author, a descendant of Polish immigrants born in Jerusalem in 1954 and raised with a European mindset, a sign of cultural solidarity in times of growing anti-Semitism.

The German public knows David Grossman “not only as an author of novels and children’s books but also as a politically involved citizen”, said Ulrich Raulff, President of ifa, the German intermediary organisation for international cultural relations, and Director of the German Literature Archive in Marbach until 2018, in his laudatory speech. “Ever since the voice of his friend Amos Oz went silent, his has been considered the most important one of his country and civil society. His critical comments on Israeli politics are noticed and registered.” Raulff also pointed out the author’s keen eye for details in his laudatory speech. “David Grossman’s lifework reflects his fundamental political conviction: If you want to remember others that they are not damned to live with the sword and die from the sword, if you want to find the words that make enemies talk to each other, you also have to be able to listen to others. David Grossman teaches us that our hearing sense is our most humane sense.”

“I am a Jewish Israeli living in the Middle East and seeking the dialog with the EU, the USA, Latin America, Asia and Palestine.” These are the words David Grossman used to describe the intention of his writing during the awarding ceremony. Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Foundation: „David Grossman is one of those people the world needed in the tens of thousands, if not millions. He is willing to look for compromises and really put himself in the other’s shoes.”

In August, the German translation of Grossman’s latest book “Life Plays With Me”, highly acclaimed by literature critics, was released. A war report, love story and family history at the same time, it tells how the trauma of treason continues to spread in the family. In 2008, Grossman’s 600-page masterpiece “To the End of the Land” was published. The author received the Geschwister-Scholl literary award in 2008, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2010 and the Man Booker Prize in 2017. The 66-year old is a peace activist advocating for reconciliation in the Middle East.

About the Würth Prize for European Literature

The Würth Prize for European Literature, endowed with EUR 25,000, recognizes literary efforts that reflect Europe’s cultural diversity. It is awarded every other year to personalities who work at the crossing of different cultures, deal with European cultural traditions or dedicate themselves to experiences that emerged in their country due to European influence. The Würth Prize for European Literature is awarded irrespective of the literary genre. The jury is composed of members from the most different fields of literature and cultural mediation. The award winners:

• 2020 David Grossman

• 2018 Christoph Ransmayr

• 2016 Peter Handke

• 2014 Péter Nádas

• 2012 Hanna Krall

• 2010 Ilija Trojanow

• 2008 Peter Turrini

• 2006 Herta Müller

• 2004 Harald Hartung

• 2002 Claude Vigée

• 2000 Claudio Magris

• 1998 Hermann Lenz