The aim of this prize, founded in 2009 by the European Booksellers’ Federation, the European Writers’ Council and the Federation of European Publishers, is to call attention to the values of contemporary literature written in various languages.
Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism, youth and sport announced yesterday at the Frankfurt Book Festival that, among others, Viktor Horváth’s novel Török tükör (Turkish Mirror, 2009) was the winner of this year's prize. This ‘small Nobel Prize’ is intended to help talented European writers and promote the international circulation of their books.
From among the thirty-six countries participating in the cultural programme of the European Union, the award is given each year to candidates from twelve countries. The last (and the first) time Hungary was among these countries was in 2009, in the year of the foundation of the prize. That year the winner was Noémi Szécsi’s Communist Monte Cristo (see our review).
The prize will be awarded on 22 November in Brussels, in the presence of several hundred guests – among others, some prestigious publishers, literary agents and European politicians. This will be followed by a year-long European and international promotion campaign.
Born in 1962 in Pécs, Viktor Horváth has worked as a journalist, a high-school teacher and a part-time lecturer at the University of Pécs. He started publishing short stories, novels, translations of poems and essays in 1994. His books include a novel which is an alternative travel guide on New York and a rewritten version of The Nutcracker.
Turkish Mirror portrays everyday life in sixteenth century Hungary, when it was a suzerainty of the Sultan Suleyman. The narrator is an old Muslim man, who addresses the reader throughout as "my heir to the true faith", assuming that by the time his words are read, the Hungarians will have assimilated with their conquerors – an ingenious reversal that runs throughout the book and gives it its special charm.
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