Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu has won the Leipzig Book Award for his trilogy Blinding. The novel originally came out in three separate parts in 1996, 2002 and 2007 respectively, while its outstanding English translation by Sean Cotter was published as a single book by Archipelago Books in 2013.
The award’s full name is the “Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding”, the idea being that it goes to writers (though they officially refer to them as “personalities”) who “have rendered outstanding services towards the advancement of reconciliation throughout Europe, particularly with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.”
Rarely does an official explanation of an international jury contain phrases such as “culminates in a blaze of phantasmagorical and apocalyptic splendour,” and “a place of compulsion and delusion under an absurd and megalomaniac dictatorship” but if there’s a novel where they’re going to say them then this is the one. Besides, if you want to really reconcile with Central and Eastern Europe then you need to deal with the phantasmagorical, the absurd and your fair share of megalomania.
Previous winners include Yuri Andrukhovych, Slavenka Drakulić, Pankaj Mishra, Timothy Snyder, György Dalos, Claudio Magris and many more.
Read an excerpt from Blinding at the LARB here
Read an essay on Blinding at the LARB by Romanian writer Bogdan Suceavă here
For more on Cărtărescu’s receiving the award read a report in Deutsche Welle.
Photo – Mircea Cărtărescu, Göteborg Book Fair 2013 by Albin Olsson