This year’s European Book Prize, worth 10,000 euros to each winner, has recognised both humour and a genre known as ‘literary reportage’.
The idea behind the award, set up in honour of the former EU Commission President Jacques Delors, is to promote European values and an understanding of the European Union as a cultural entity.
Poland’s Marius Szczygiel won for his book “Gottland” – a collection of stories about Czechs and how they have adapted to the times they have lived in.
Szczygiel explained where his idea came from:
“If you really want to know where it came from, it was simply from during the Communist period. Authors had to bypass the censor, the writer as well as the reporter had to write in such a way that the censor could not criticise him. So he had to find a way of saying things without actually mentioning them.”
By contrast, Sylvie Goulard’s contribution, ‘L’Europe pour les Nuls’ or ‘Europe for Dummies’ is a tongue-in-cheek self-help book.
She is not only a writer but also a Liberal member of the European Parliament so her knowledge of the workings of the EU comes first hand.
Goulard told reporters:
“ I really think there are lots of people who have responsibilities in Europe, who don’t feel obliged to explain what they are doing in a simple and clear way and who sometimes don’t mind partly destroying what has been done in Europe. They are the dummies, not the ordinary people who are not given a correct explanation about what the European Union really is. It will always be fairly complex with 27 countries and as many cultures, but that is its charm.”