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The European Book Prize

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The European Book Prize

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The European Book Prize was founded in 2007 by the Esprit d’Europe association as a way of promoting European values, and contributing to Europeans’ understanding of the EU as a cultural entity. Any book published in an EU member state is eligible for the competition. This year the European Book Prize went to German writer Maxim Leo and to Polish writer Anna Bikont.

Maxim Leo said: “I tried to write a book about how I remembered the former German Democratic Republic. Most books and movies about this subject deal with people in the Stasi or in the opposition movement for civil rights. There is nothing between these two subjects. Apparently one has to be a fighter for civil rights or a traitor. I tried to write about the fact that there was also normal life, family life, I wrote about people who were sad, happy, in love or not in love, about the fact that everything was possible. Because I do know myself very well and I know my family, I told a story about my family.”

Anna Bikont is a journalist as well as a novelist. Her book was an essay on contemporary Polish society in the context of a the pogroms that took place during the second World War.

She said: “Of course it’s an old story but I also wrote about what has happened in the 60 years since then and I feel that this is a very real subject. The subject of non-memory, what happens when we don’t remember things which have happened. And in a sense it’s a problem for all of Europe because we have problems with the past all the time.”

Booker prizer winner Julian Barnes was the President of this year’s jury. He said: “This is the very beginings of the Prize, the first days of the prize. This is the fifth time that this has been announced so I think this can become something grander and more important and perhaps there will be a European Nobel, yes.”

Among the former winners are Finish writer Sofi Oksanen and Italian journalist Roberto Saviano

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