"Invitation to think for yourself" as a literary agenda

Media Foundation's Erich Loest Prize 2019 goes to Hans Joachim Schädlich

Leipzig, 10 January 2019. Hans Joachim Schädlich is this year's winner of the Erich Loest Prize, offered by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation in memory of the writer Erich Loest from Leipzig who was an honorary citizen of his hometown and died in 2013. The prize is endowed with 10,000 euros and being awarded for the second time this year. The award ceremony will be held on 24 February, Loest’s birthday, at the Media Foundation's Media Campus "Villa Ida". Tilman Spreckelsen, editor of the literature supplement of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, will give the laudatory speech.

Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation and Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Foundations, paid tribute to the new Loest prizewinner: "Schädlich's writing style combines a fresh and critical mind with narrative imagination and paints powerful pictures of recent German history. Despite all their literary differences, this makes him similar to Erich Loest, after whom our award is named and who was a friend and supporter of the Sparkasse Leipzig Foundations for many years."

The prize jury views its decision most of all as an acknowledgement of Schädlich's novel Felix und Felka, published in early 2018: "Not a word too much, each scene is as simple as it is striking. With Felix und Felka Hans Joachim Schädlich proves himself as a master of literary compaction. He portrays the various stages of the ultimately futile escape of the German-Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum and his partner Felka from the Nazis in a touching and captivating way that shows a deep sympathy for his protagonists. As in previous books, Schädlich doesn't dictate a particular opinion, but rather invites the reader to think for himself. Sapere aude, dare to think for yourself - this Kantian philosophical leitmotif is also a literary agenda to him," comments the jury.

About the Jury:

  • Hartwig Hochstein (Jury Chairman, former editor-in-chief of Leipziger Volkszeitung and member of the Media Foundation’s Foundation Council)
  • Jan Emendörfer (editor-in-chief of Leipziger Volkszeitung and member of the Media Foundation’s Foundation Council)
  • Ulrich Hammerschmidt (head of culture at Freie Presse in Chemnitz)
  • Prof. Dr. Josef Haslinger (head of the German Literature Institute at Leipzig University)
  • Regine Möbius (federal commissioner for arts and culture, ver.di trade union)
  • Andreas Platthaus (head of literature and literary life at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
  • Linde Rotta (freelance writer in Leipzig)

About the laureate:

Hans Joachim Schädlich was born as the son of a merchant in 1935 in Reichenbach in Vogtland, Saxony, where he also attended school. From 1954 to 1959 he studied German language and literature as well as linguistics at Humboldt University in Berlin and Leipzig University, where he completed his doctorate with a thesis on the phonology of the dialect in the Eastern Vogtland area. Schädlich subsequently worked as a research assistant at the Academy of Sciences of the GDR in Berlin, before being relieved of his post due to his protests against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann. In 1977 his application to leave the country was granted and he has lived in West Berlin since 1979. Schädlich presented his first literary texts in the late 1960s, but was not allowed to publish them in the GDR. In 1986 Schädlich presented his first novel, Tallhover, which helped to establish him in the West German literature scene. The book was followed by numerous novels, collections of stories, essays and articles, and most recently Felix und Felka.

About the award:

The award is endowed with 10,000 euros and is offered by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation every two years in memory of the writer Erich Loest. Erich Loest had a close association with the Sparkasse Foundations throughout his life - as a founding member of the Media Foundation and as a patron of the Culture and Environment Foundation, to which he left his literary estate. The award honours authors who not only describe the social and political conditions in Germany, but whose opinions also help to shape the democratic discourse. Laureates should also have connections with the Central German area. The first laureate was Guntram Vesper in 2017.