Kafka awards multiplying like cockroaches

Earlier this year it was announced that Irish writer John Banville was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. Now it is being a bit coy and imprecise of the Kafka Society to only say that Banville is coming to Prague at the end of October to accept the award without, for example, naming the actual day. Still, this is hardly Kafkaesque.

Where it enters the territory of that overused word though comes in the fact that on October 7 the Taiwanese poet Hung Ching-you was awarded the Franz Kafka Medal. While the highly prestigious prize, often considered a potential tip for the Nobel winner, is granted by the Franz Kafka Society, the medal is given by what is known as the European “Franz Kafka” Circle Prague.

Reading the organization’s statutes and looking over the list of previous winners is a bit bewildering. There are world famous writers and artists – Miloš Forman, Norman Mailer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Steven Spielberg – who I wonder if they were ever aware of winning the award. Then there are totally unknown local Prague kitsch painters whose galleries can be found all over the Old Town.

Among the statutes of the organization that Kafka would undoubtedly appreciate is the fact that it is “voluntary” and that it “is a legal entity with its own right of subjectivity.” (Speaking of the organization, its vice-president Arkadij Eisler is also one of the award winners).

Here is where even the recognizable names among the winners become a bit puzzling though. According to the statutes the “aim and mission of the European Circle is to develop the relationship of artists to the work of Franz Kafka, to support and appreciate the work of these artists, who are inspired by the work of Franz Kafka directly in their art, and to generally spread the knowledge of the work of Franz Kafka in art culture abroad.”

Which Spielberg film are they thinking of? “E.T.”? And Norman Mailer?

It seems that neither the German Franz Kafka Society nor the Dutch Kafka Circle give awards  – but you never know.

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Categories: Literary Events


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3 Comments on “Kafka awards multiplying like cockroaches”

  1. 09/10/2011 at 8:30 am #

    In my own subjectivity I would award you a Kafka medal, but as a giant insect I am not able to do so.


  1. Kafkaesque award hijinks ongoing | literalab - 05/11/2011

    […] Less than a month ago I wrote about the shadowy European “Franz Kafka” Circle Prague, which seems to award its Franz Kafka Medal just before the internationally renowned Franz Kafka Society gives its annual prize hoping to ride the coattails of misunderstanding. […]

  2. Franz Kafka Prize goes to Czech writer Daniela Hodrová | literalab - 25/05/2012

    […] off as a prestigious literary prize” Franz Kafka Medal that I first wrote about here (Kafka awards multiplying like cockroaches) and again here (Kafkaesque award […]

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