Jan Němec wins the European Union Prize for Literature for his novel Dějiny světla

The announcement of this year’s winners took place at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 8 October.


Jan Němec. Photograph © Anna Nádvorníková

Jan Němec. Photograph © Anna Nádvorníková

This year, one winner was selected from each of the following countries: Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The prize winners will be presented with their awards during a gala ceremony at the Concert Noble in Brussels on 18 November.

Since the Prize was launched in 2009, the EU has provided funding for the translation of books by 56 (out of 59) EUPL winners, in to 20 different European languages, covering a total of 203 translations. The winners also benefit from extra visibility at Europe’s major book fairs, including Frankfurt, London, Göteborg and the Passaporta Festival in Brussels.

The European Union Prize for Literature is the only international prize of its kind: it celebrates the best new talents in European fiction and enables the public to discover emerging authors from different countries,” says Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

The selection of this year’s Czech winner was organised by the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers, who appointed an expert jury: FFUK Professor Petr A. Bílek, poet, songwriter and Chairman of the Czech PEN Centre Jiří Dědeček, bookseller Jiří Seidl, editor Jan Šulc and FFUP Professor Josef Jařab, who chaired the jury. The Czech Republic already has one winner, in 2011 Tomáš Zmeškal won the award for his novel Milostný dopis klínovým písmem.

Dějiny Světla, a biographical novel about renowned photographer František Drtikol, has been very popular with Czech readers and critics. For his novel, Jan Němec won this year’s Czech Book Award, received a Magnesia Litera Award nomination and is currently on the Josef Škvorecký Award shortlist. An excerpt from the book in English can be found here.

More information about the European Union Prize for Literature can be found at www.euprizeliterature.eu