Staged for the second time in 2008, the Bank Austria Literaris award is a sponsorship award for literary works from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Currently, its total prize money of 100,000 euros is the highest awarded for literature from this part of the world.
The winner of the Bank Austria Literaris 2008 is Slovakian author Agda Bavi Pain with his "Koniec sveta" (At the End of the World). Coming in second and third are Srdan Valjarevic, Serbia, with "Komo" (Como), and Palmi Rancev, Bulgaria, with "Malko kasmet za po-kasno" (A Little Luck for Later).
This year, a special prize for poetry was up for grabs, too. It was awarded to Slovakian poet Rudolf Jurolek for his book "Život je možný" (Life is Possible).
Palmi Rancev (Bulgaria), Rudolf Jurolek (Slowkia), Srđan Valjarević (Serbia), winner Agda Bavi Pain (Slowakia), Günter Kaindlstorfer, Annemarie Türk, KulturKontakt Austria, Anton Kolarik, Bank Austria, György Dalos, Festredner, Lojze Wieser, publisher
Roadmap to the breakthrough
Chaired by Czech writer and President of the international P.E.N. Club, Jirí Gruša, the jury again discussed this year’s numerous candidates. After looking through some 800 texts, it compiled a short list of 25 titles, from which the winners of the Bank Austria Literaris 2008 were finally chosen.
The award winning works by the three main award winners of the Bank Austria Literaris 2008 competition have already been translated into German and published by Wieser Verlag with support from KulturKontakt Austria; additionally, the winner will receive a sponsorship award carrying prize money of 7,500 euros.
The winning texts along with further writings by seven excellent authors will be presented at a series of readings in Vienna. Thus, the authors are given an opportunity to introduce themselves to a larger audience and draw attention to the complexity of their literary heritage and origins.
Microcosm of change
Eastern European literature is experiencing a new awakening. Like no other region and for many years now, it has reacted to the radical changes sweeping our world. The narrative expression of a new beginning, imagination living up to the freedom to determine form and content, and the courageous exploration of what is by now not all that novel anymore, these are just a few of the characteristics of this relatively young literary scene. What’s more, the writing skills of these authors are remarkable and form the basis for a highly original narrative style that makes Eastern European literature an important current of the early 21st century – a major contribution to the literature of our day.
Europe is a winner, too
Against this backdrop, Bank Austria sees its responsibility in bringing together the knowledge and sensitivity needed to create a platform that enables authors in this important region to harness a strong network and realize their potential to attract a wide readership. That benefits all those involved: Eastern Europe’s cultural scene, the authors themselves, readers – and last but not least Europe as a whole, which has a vested interest in growing together even further.
Within this context, Bank Austria sees itself as a partner and supports the integration of Central and Southeastern Europe on many levels.