Nihad Sirees Wins Germany’s ‘Coburg Rückert’ Prize

Syrian novelist Nihad Sirees has won the 2013 Coberg Rückert Prize, an award given by the German city of Coburg in memory of poet-translator Friedrich Rückert, who lived and worked in Coburg from 1820 to 1866:

nihad-siris-100~_v-image256h_-1f08f4ec4be92ccc06fdc72ba34a1cafc74be1d2The prize’s focus shifts from cycle to cycle. This year, the focus was on Syrian authors, because, according to prize committee, “Angesichts der Situation in Syrien, die die Ereignisse des arabischen Umbruchs derzeit am dramatischsten widerspiegelt, hat sich die Jury des Coburger Rückert-Preises 2013 für einen Blickpunkt auf Syrien und das dortige literarische Schaffen unter dem Gesichtspunkt seiner politischen Aktualität entschieden.

Briefly*: Given the situation in Syria, which reflects the most dramatic events of the Arab uprisings, the Cobert Rückert jury has opted for a focus on that nation.

The four shortlisted authors were: Samar Yazbek, Rosa Yassin Hassan, Nihad Sirees, and Fawwaz Haddad.

Rosa Yassin Hassan was on the list for her novel Ebenholz (Ebony), Samar Yazbek for Schrei nach Freiheit: Bericht aus dem Inneren der syrischen Revolution (the German title of A Woman in the Crossfire), Fawwaz Haddad for his novel Gottes blutiger Himmel (the German title of Soldiers of God), and Nihad Sirees for Ali Hassan’s Intrige, (the German title for The Silence and the Roar).

The prize’s first winner was Egyptian writer Alaa al-Aswany (2008) and the second was Iranian poet Esmail Khoi (2010). From here forward, the award will be given every three years. Each prize brings its winner 7,500 euros, and, to be eligible, books must be available in German translation.

This year’s judges were Dr. Günther Orth, Dr. Claudia Ott, and Dr. Hartmut Fähndrich.

The winner was set to be announced on May 16, Rückert’s 225th birthday. However, the announcement seems to have come out bit early. The awards ceremony is set for my birthday, June 21.

*I don’t know German, and hope I have not made any grievous translation errors.