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Lithuanian Culture Institute
Tomas Vaiseta

On Monday, 28 February, 14 candidates for the European Union Prize for Literature were announced in Brussels. This year, Lithuania nominated writer and historian Tomas Vaiseta for his novel of ideas Ch. The novel was nominated for the prize 2022 by the Lithuanian Culture Institute following the change in the award procedure.

Among the 14 nominees is the Ukrainian writer Eugenia Kuznetsova for the book Ask Miyechka (original title Спитайте Мієчку). As was stated in the European Union Prize for Literature report, “we express our solidarity with Ukraine, its writers, translators, publishers, booksellers and librarians. Four years ago, the first Ukrainian nominee, Haska Shyyan, won the EU Prize for Literature. In 2022, the Ukrainian Book Institute nominated Eugenia Kuznetsova as the best emerging voice in the country’s literature. “Together with the global book community, the organisers of the EU Prize for Literature condemn Russia’s attack and demand the restoration of peace in Ukraine,” the report read.

The aim of the triennial prize, which has been running since 2009, is to provide international visibility to emerging authors. This year saw a big change in the concept of the prize and the selection procedure. Nominating works of high literary quality and potential for translatability for the 2022-2024 cycle now falls on national entities working in the field of promoting literature and literary translations. The second round of selection was carried out by a seven-member European jury (from countries not included in the cycle), who read excerpts from the nominated books in English or French and select the winner of the main prize, as well as up to five winners of special-mention awards. The authors to secure the win will receive a financial prize, half of which will include a grant to support translations of their winning works. This year’s results will be announced at the Paris Book Fair on 21 April.

Previously, national juries used to nominate one out of 13 to 14 winners of the EUPL.

The European Union Prize for Literature, at the initiative of the European Commission, is run by the Federation of European Publishers and the European and International Booksellers Federation. Each year, one third of the 41 countries participating in the EU Creative Europe programme are eligible to compete for the prize.

The jury of literary experts formed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute consisted of journalist Audrius Ožalas, literary critics Jūratė Čerškutė and Neringa Butnoriūtė, literary critic and writer Virginija Cibarauskė, and poet and translator Marius Burokas. According to the members of the jury, Tomas Vaiseta’s novel Ch. (suggested pronunciation ‘ha’) perfectly meets the criteria of the EU Prize for Literature: it is a masterful work of literature, faithful to the tradition of high modernism, yet at the same time originally demonstrating the uniqueness of this young writer’s prose as he contemplates the challenges faced by Western civilization, creates a universal narrative world and dedicates special attention to the literary language.

Previously, four Lithuanian writers have won the EUPL: Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė (2009), Giedra Radvilavičiūtė (2012), Undinė Radzevičiūtė (2015) and Daina Opolskaitė (2019). Winning the prize has stimulated the translation of their works into many languages of the European Union.

Competing this year were works by writers from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine.