Maria Stepanova, a renowned Russian writer currently residing in Berlin, has been awarded the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding in 2023. Her novel, In Memory of Memory, which delves into the themes of Stalinism and the collapse of the Soviet Union, earned her a nomination for the Booker Prize in 2021. However, it was her volume of poetry, Girls Without Clothes, that earned her the prestigious Leipzig Book Prize. This collection of poetry sensitively explores the often concealed violence against women and the power dynamics that fuel this oppression in a highly poetic manner.
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The prize ceremony was held at the opening of the 30th Leipzig Book Fair on April 25. Presented since 1994 for the “advancement of reconciliation” in Europe, another Russian exile, the journalist Masha Gessen who lives in the US, won in 2019 for her book “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.”
The panel of judges praised Stepanova’s unwavering commitment to a poetic perception of the world and acknowledged that her literary works reverberate with the voices of renowned authors from across the globe. Stepanova, a Russian-Jewish poet, novelist, and journalist born in Moscow in 1972, has been a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s administration. She has expressed her admiration for Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion, describing it as a battle of “good versus evil” in an interview with the German public broadcaster RBB.
About the Leipzig Book Prize
- The Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding is a prestigious literary award that has been awarded annually since 1994. The prize aims to promote a greater understanding between European cultures by recognizing outstanding works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that contribute to this goal.
- The prize is awarded as part of the Leipzig Book Fair in Germany and is presented in three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and translation. The winner in each category receives a cash prize and a bronze sculpture.
- The jury for the Leipzig Book Prize is made up of literary scholars, critics, and journalists from across Europe. They evaluate works from a variety of European countries and languages to select the winners.
- The Leipzig Book Prize has become one of the most prestigious literary awards in Europe, and winning the prize is seen as a significant achievement for any author. The award has helped to promote greater cultural exchange and understanding across the continent and has helped to bring attention to important literary works that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
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