Germany’s 6th International Literature Award—Haus der Kulturen der Welt 2014 has been awarded to Canada-based Haitian author Dany Laferrière and Beate Thill, his translator from the French for the novel Das Rätsel der Rückkehr (L’énigme du retour). The award will be presented on Thursday, July 3, as part of the Long Night of the Shortlist, which will be held from 6:00pm on the roof terrace of HKW to celebrate the nominated authors and translators as well as the award winners. The Japanese-German word artist Yoko Towada will give the opening address, and jury member Hans Christoph Buch will hold the laudatory speech.
[. . .] In addition to Dany Laferrière and Beate Thill, the nominees included: Zsófia Bán: Als nur die Tiere lebten (from the Hungarian by Terézia Mora), Georgi Gospodinov: Physik der Schwermut (from the Bulgarian by Alexander Sitzmann), Mohsin Hamid: So wirst du stinkreich im boomenden Asien (from the English by Eike Schönfeld), Bernardo Kucinski: K. oder Die verschwundene Tochter (from the Portuguese by Sarita Brandt), and Madeleine Thien: Flüchtige Seelen (from the English by Almuth Carstens).
The jury explains its choice of Dany Laferrière: Das Rätsel der Rückkehr (Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2013), translated from the French by Beate Thill [original: L’énigme du retour, Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle, Paris 2009/Les Éditions du Boréal, Montreal 2009]:
“Das Rätsel der Rückkehr is Dany Laferrière’s most personal and, at the same time, his most literarily successful book: an effortless soliloquy in which the Francophone author journeys to the land of his birth, tracing the footsteps of his deceased father; a poetic monologue like a saxophone solo, beginning in Canada, his country of residence, and ending in his bitterly poor Haitian homeland, a literary search for identity that naturally draws the reader into the text. Dany Laferrière, winner of the Prix Médicis and recent inductee into the Académie française, congenially takes up the challenge of Aimé Césaire’s manifesto Cahier d’un retour au pays natal. Beate Thill’s sensitive translation strikingly captures the rhythm of the original, in its shifts between verse, prose, and essayistic reflection.”
This year’s jury includes the literature and culture journalists, translators, and writers Egon Ammann, Hans Christoph Buch, Leila Chammaa, Kersten Knipp, Sabine Peschel, Jörg Plath, and Iris Radisch.
Dany Laferrière (born in 1963 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti) emigrated to Montreal, Canada, thirty years ago. He is considered one of the most influential writers in the Haitian diaspora and an important representative of the Francophone Caribbean. His first novel, Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer, was published in 1985. Laferrière has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Prix Médicis, and in 2013 became the first writer from Québec to become a member of the Académie française. Das Rätsel der Rückkehr is his first book to be translated into German.
Beate Thill (born in 1952) studied English language and literature and geography. A literary translator from English and French, she works primarily on literature “from the South,” that is, from Africa and the Caribbean, and has translated works by such authors as Assia Djebar, Abdelwahab Meddeb, and Tchicaya U Tam’si. She discovered the poet and cultural critic Édouard Glissant for the German book market, has translated his works, and has published an anthology of his poems.
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Press release for downloading: www.hkw.de/en/presse
Multimedia offerings, interviews, and live documentation of the prize award ceremony and the Long Night of the Short List: www.ilp-on-blog.de