The government of the Austrian state of Styria has decided to award the Literary Prize of Styria 2022 to Radka Denemarková. The Literary Prize of Styria is awarded to artists for outstanding literary work. The prize is awarded biennially and has been awarded, among others, to Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, H. C. Artmann and Peter Turrini.
The Literary Prize of Styria, which is endowed with EUR 10,000, is awarded by the federal government on the recommendation of an expert jury. The jury gave the following reasons for its unanimous recommendation:
“Radka Denemarková writes from within, yet without focusing on herself. A decidedly political writer, she uses her experience, travels and convictions to draw attention to foreign worlds, portray socially relevant topics, and condemn injustice. Her refusal to compromise goes hand in hand with a constant re-examination and reflection that is crafted with linguistic brilliance and profound insight.
The ‘Swallow of Prague’, as the Czech writer likes to call herself, promotes a poetics of humanity in writing and in life; it is a deep, warm humanism, which she has long held to be more powerful than the forms of authoritarian, totalitarian and repressive systems she has long fought against at all levels. ‘The kindness of the swallow’, she writes in her novel A Contribution to the History of Joy, ‘has more weight than the laws of rulers.’
To claim that Radka Denemarková established close contacts with the Styrian literary and cultural scene during her stays as Honorary Author of the City of Graz (2017/2018) and as ‘writer in residence’ of the cultural initiative Kulturvermittlung Steiermark (2011) is inaccurate and insufficient. In fact, she has become a firm part of cultural life and has influenced many emerging authors through her teaching activities at the university. Her trail did not end with her passing. No wonder Denemarková’s readings in Graz now resemble matches where she plays for the home team!
Radka Denemarková, born in 1968, writes in Czech and German. She writes novels, plays, screenplays and essays, translates from German and teaches creative writing.
She is the only Czech author to have won the Magnesia Litera Award four times (in the categories of prose, non-fiction, translation and best book of 2019).
Her two most recent works published in German are A Contribution to the History of Joy (2019; Swiss Spycher Literaturpreis Leuk Prize in 2019) and Hours of Lead (2022). Both are published by Hoffmann & Campe.”
Daniel Hadler: Großer Steirische Literaturpreis geht an Radka Denemarková. Kleine Zeitung, 18. 3. 2022.
Landes-Literaturpreis für „Schwalbe von Prag“. Steiermark.ÖRF.at, 18. 3. 2022.
Radka Denemarková: Stunden aus Blei. Novel. Translated from Czech by Eva Profousová. 880 pp., hardcover, EUR 32,90 (Verlag Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg)
Radka Denemarková: Příspěvek k dějinám radosti. Novel. 334 pp., hardcover, CZK 329 (Nakladatelství Host, Brno)