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24/06/2005

Ingeborg Bachmann Prize

Background and links on Austria's most prestigious literary award.

The German Literature Days opened in Klagenfurt on Wednesday the 29th with the usual "Speech on Literature". As part of the festival, the prestigious Austrian Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for literature is awarded. This year's speaker, Swiss author and literary critic Iso Camartin warned the jury and the audience to exercise critical rigour in their decision. "Of course we can let anyone write what they want, but let us ensure that we don't waste our time with junk thoughts and word waste." It will be interesting to see whether his words are heeded. (Read the speech in full on the Bachmann Prize website which is full of other useful links.)

The 22,500 euro prize money is donated by the city of Klagenfurt in memory of its famous daughter Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973). (Read a biography in English here. Further information in German here and here)

The three-day literary marathon began yesterday, with renowned authors reading from their own unpublished works. This year's participating authors include Barbara Bongartz, Julia Schoch and Anne Weber. (Here a complete list and video portraits of the authors. Here a selection of excerpts. The magazine Volltext also offers many of the texts in full.) This year's jury includes Burkhard Spinnen, Ilma Rakusa, Norbert Miller, Heinrich Detering and jury president Iris Radisch.

What distinguishes this competition from others of similar rank is its transparency. The jury discusses the work with the authors immediately after the reading and the public can watch the entire proceedings live on ORF and 3sat, and follow them on the Internet. "What does this exceptional interplay between literature and the media mean for the participants?" asks Doris Moser in an English study "Reality-TV, cultural mission, literary marketing. The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize on television". (Download )

Previous winners include Ulrich Plenzdorf (1978), Sten Nadolny (1980), Wolfgang Hilbig (1989) and last year the prize went to Uwe Tellkamp. Here a list of all 28 winners and information on German and international literature prizes.)
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