Georgian writer Iva Pezuashvili (ივა ფეზუაშვილი), was announced as this year’s winner of the European Union Prize for Literature for his book A Garbage Chute (ბუნკერი) at the Paris Book Fair (before an interview with Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov) on Friday, 22 April.
The international jury also accorded special mention to authors from Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, Spain and Ukraine.
This year, Lithuania had 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 fundamental restructuring in the framework of the awards.
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.
The aim of the 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 selected 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.
Previously, on a rotating basis over three years, 12 to 14 countries nominated three to five writers and national winners with the participation of a balanced national jury. All of these 12-14 national winners were awarded 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.
Four Lithuanian writers have previously won the EUPL: Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė (2009), Giedra Radvilavičiūtė (2012), Undinė Radzevičiūtė (2015) and Daina Opolskaitė (2019). Winning the prize encouraged the translation of their works into many languages of the European Union.
The Lithuanian Culture Institute is a budgetary institution established by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, which consistently strengthens the role of Lithuanian culture in the world. The Institute purposefully presents Lithuanian culture and professional art abroad and increases the opportunities for cultural operators, artists, specialists and organisations working in these fields on the international scene.