The European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) puts the spotlight on the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature in the field of fiction, to promote the circulation of literature within Europe and to encourage greater interest in non-national literary works.
The first-person narrator who roams through contemporary Berlin in The Sad Guest is a flickering, elusive being. The narrator is a writer, has already published three books and comes from Poland. But this novel is not autobiographical. The main character in the first of the three parts of the novel is Dorota, a Polish architect whom the first-person narrator meets through a newspaper ad. The first-person narrator visits Dorota several times. Her monologues charged with existential philosophy are not always pleasant for her listener, but they do bring him into harmony with the fragility of his own existence. The narrator’ s precarious feeling of home and security is shaken by the attack on the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz. The last significant encounter of the first-person narrator is with Dariusz, a former doctor who was stripped of his licence to practice medicine because of his alcohol problems, and who is struggling through his life, while the burden of memories is almost crushing him. Dariusz’s recollections of his arrival in Germany decades earlier illuminate precisely that space of possibility between loss of homeland, euphoria of departure and longing in which all the characters in the novel are located.
The novel was awarded the European Literature Prize based on the synopsis and recommendation provided by the German jury.
Asger lives with his girlfriend and her daughter in Copenhagen and works for an advertising agency. It’s 2008, the credit crunch has just begun to bite, and after leading a catastrophic campaign Asger is fired. He spends his days lying on the sofa, developing problems with both his weight and alcohol. His girlfriend breaks up with him and he moves to a flat in Sydhavn, losing contact with everybody. Half a year later, he is forced to take on a job as a disabled carer in Stentofte, a dreary concrete suburb of Copenhagen, looking after a sick man called Waldemar. Their daily life together is a study in hopelessness. But Waldemar has a plan: he wants to go and see a healer in Morocco. Asger is sceptical, but nevertheless he helps Waldemar raise money for the journey, and after a while the two friends find themselves on a road trip through Europe. However, they are being followed by a person in a black Audi – and as they get closer to Morocco, the trip turns into a race with death.
The novel was awarded the European Literature Prize (2013) based on the synopsis and recommendation provided by the Danish jury.
Stavros Christodoulou was born in 1963 in Nicosia, Cyprus. He studied law in Athens but has never practiced the legal profession since he had already dedicated himself to journalism at the end of the 1980s. He has worked as managing director of various magazines in Greece and Cyprus and currently works for the leading Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros as a columnist. His first book Hotel National, published by Kalentis Publications in Athens in 2016, was shortlisted for the Cyprus State Literature Prize and for a competition run by the literary magazine Hourglass. His second book, The Day the River Froze, published by Kastaniotis Editions in Athens in 2018, received the Cyprus State Literature Prize and the European Literature Prize 2020.
The Son follows one night in the life of a hero with no name, a writer whose life is falling apart. That afternoon, his wife left him, while for many years he has been in conflict with his father, who blames him for his mother’s death. Incapable of finding inner calm, he leaves into the warm, Mediterranean night, in the city of Ulcinj, itself a multilayered mixture of European dimensions, African influences, and the communist past. The hero of The Son is a man who can’t adapt to new times and rules. On his journey into the night, he meets an assortment of characters: a piano student from Vienna who has abandoned his musical career and converted to Islam, a radical Christian preacher and a group of refugees from Kosovo. In the style of Mihail Bulgakov, the characters meet in the old city of Ulcinj, at the Square of the Slaves – a location where the pirates who lived in the city until the 19th century would bring and sell captured slaves, including Miguel de Cervantes, according to legend.
The novel was awarded the European Literature Prize (2011) based on the synopsis and recommendation provided by the Montenegro jury.