Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Nádas was too white to be shortlisted for a German literary prize

May 22nd, 2024

Left and right-wing commentators find it equally absurd of a German literary jury to discard Hungarian writer Péter Nádas from the top candidates of the HKW prize for the best novel of 2023, despite his book being found to be the best.

Two former jury members of the House of the World’s Cultures (HKW) annual literary prize disclosed in Die Zeit that the majority of the jury made their choice on the basis of the authors’ descent, gender and skin colour rather than just the quality of their books. Péter Nádas’s „Horror Stories” was judged the best among the competing works, they wrote, but was rejected because the Hungarian writer was white and male. The two authors of the article have not been selected for the 2024 jury.

In Népszava, Sándor Zsigmond Papp finds disgraceful a remark by one of the jury members who said ‘I am sorry, I love literature – but politics is more important’. He recalls that unjust decisions have often been taken by literary jurors, including in the case of the first Nobel Prize for literature which was awarded to the French poet Sully Proudhomme instead of Leo Tolstoy. However, it has never been publicly avowed that the winners were chosen on the basis of political considerations rather than the artistic value of their work. ‘This looks very much like cheating’ he writes.

‘This is pure racism which we must fight’, Ervin Nagy exclaims on the Mandiner website. Germany, he continues, has apparently become a place where ‘political correctness eliminates literary quality’. As for Nádas, he suggests that he was not the main loser of the HKW case. The members of the jury humiliated themselves and their prize, rather than the Hungarian writer.

Tags: , , ,