Controversy is mounting over the awarding of one of Germany’s top literary prizes to the Austrian writer Peter Handke. The city of Dusseldorf, which funds the 50,000 euro Heinrich-Heine award, looks set to annul the decision in a row over Handke’s attendance at the funeral of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
The majority of Dusseldorf councillors say they will reject the decision made by an award jury when they meet late next month. Handke is quoted as saying that he was happy to be close to Milosevic, saying he defended his people. The former president died in prison at the Hague war crimes tribunal in March. Writer, Jurgen Busche, thinks the prize should be awarded to Handke. He said a writer may have his own political opinions and we can criticise those, but this should not be mixed up with his literary work. Critics of the jury’s decision say it is an insult to the memories of all those who suffered at the hands of Milosevic. A play by Handke has also been withdrawn from one of Paris’ top theatres.