Austrian Book Prize goes to Verena Roßbacher

The author Verena Roßbacher, who was born in Bludenz in 1979 and lives in Berlin, won the Austrian Book Prize for 2022 with her fourth novel “Mon Chéri and our demolished souls”. This jury decision was announced on Monday evening at the award ceremony in Vienna’s casino on Schwarzenbergplatz. The award, presented for the seventh time this year, is endowed with 20,000 euros. Last year, Raphaela Edelbauer won with her novel “DAVE”.

In the finale, Helena Adler (“Fretten”), Anna Kim (“Story of a Child”), Robert Menasse (“The Extension”) and Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker (“Poacher”) got nothing. They had made it onto the shortlist with their books and received EUR 2,500 for them.

Roßbacher first studied philosophy, German and theology in Zurich, then at the German Literature Institute in Leipzig. Her debut novel was Desire for Dragons (2009). It was followed by “Gossips and Battles” (2014) and “I Was a Servant in the House of Hobbs” (2018). It was only in September that she received this year’s Lake Constance Literature Prize from the city of Überlingen.

“‘Mon Chéri and our demolished souls’ tells a story about letting go. In between there is the finest slapstick. Funny women, we learn that with Verena Roßbacher, are simply irresistible!”, The book prize jury judged. “With her heroine Charly Benz, she “not only created a character that you will never forget. She also gives her an almost unbelievable personality development.”

This year’s debut prize, which is endowed with 10,000 euros, goes to Lena-Marie Biertimpel, who was born in Hamburg in 1991 and studies language arts at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. “Thrown off track by her sister’s attempted suicide, ‘Peach’, the first-person narrator, voluntarily goes to psychiatry,” the jury described the book and praised it as a “penetrating debut, powerful and tender at the same time.” Biertimpel won the jury against Sirka Elpass (“I blow-dry my eyelashes”) and Anna Maria Stadler (Maremma”). Last year, Anna Albinus prevailed in this category with “Revolver Christi”.

The Austrian Book Prize is organized by the Federal Ministry for Art, Culture, Public Service and Sport, the Main Association of the Austrian Book Trade and the Vienna Chamber of Labour. This year the jury consisted of the bookseller Bernhard Bastien, the literary scholar Günther Stocker, the journalists Edith-Ulla Gasser and Katharina Teutsch and the journalist Stefan Gmünder.

As in previous years, the award gala was moderated by Burgtheater actors Dorothee Hartinger and Philipp Hauß. The previous Austrian Book Prizes went to Friederike Mayröcker (2016), Eva Menasse (2017), Daniel Wisser (2018), Norbert Gstrein (2019), Xaver Bayer (2020) and Raphaela Edelbauer (2021).

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