European Literature Prize shortlist announced

10 May 2012

The shortlist for the European Literature Prize 2012 has been announced. Out of a longlist of twenty translated titles the jury has selected five from which the winner will be chosen. The prize will be presented in early September, during Manuscripta 2012.

The five shortlisted titles are as follows (in alphabetical order by author’s name):

  • Alsof het voorbij is by Julian Barnes, translated from English by Ronald Vlek (Atlas)
  • Geluk als het geluk ver te zoeken is by Wilhelm Genazino, translated from German by Gerrit Bussink (Atlas)
  • De kaart en het gebied by Michel Houellebecq, translated from French by Martin de Haan (De Arbeiderspers)
  • C by Tom McCarthy, translated from English by Auke Leistra (De Bezige Bij)
  • De waarheid omtrent Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from French by Marianne Kaas (Prometheus)

Some aspects considered by the jury in selecting the shortlist:

With Alsof het voorbij is (Sense of an ending) Julian Barnes has produced ‘not just a pocket-sized human tragedy but a sensitively written contemplation of the unreliability of personal memory.’

In his novel Geluk als het geluk ver te zoeken is (Das Glück in glücksfernen Zeiten), Wilhelm Genazino ‘shows the dark side of the jobless life in a stream of spirited observations and thoughts such a way that it’s impossible to read without a smile’.

‘A fabulous work,’ was the jury’s jury’s judgement after reading De kaart en het gebied (La carte et le territoire) by Michel Houellebecq, ‘in which the author meets the demands he once said should be made of all real literature: it’s well written, true and intense - especially the latter’.

With C Tom McCarthy has written ‘a novel that is not only full-scale and riveting in its evocation of an era - the early twentieth century - but is also precise and profound in its exploration of our incapacity for genuine contact’.

De waarheid omtrent Marie (La vérité sur Marie) by Jean-Philippe Toussaint ‘begins as an exploration of emotional and physical intimacy but gradually changes into a breathtaking study of human resistance to fate’.

The European Literature Prize will be presented in 2012 for the second time, recognizing the best novel translated from a European language into Dutch in 2011. Last year’s winner was Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, translated from French by Jeanne Holierhoek. The prize goes to both the author and the translator of the chosen title, with the author receiving the sum of €10,000 and the translator €2,500.

The shortlist has been chosen from the longlist by a jury drawn from the world of literature and literary translation. The jury members are:

  • Frans Timmermans, member of parliament and former Secretary of State for European Affairs (chairman)
  • Joost de Vries, writer and literary critic at De Groene Amsterdammer
  • Ton Naaijkens, professor of translation studies, Utrecht University
  • Monique van Oosterhout, Boekhandel Van Gennep, Rotterdam
  • Herm Pol, Athenaeum Boekhandel, Amsterdam

Start of the Vertalersgeluktournee: the translators of the five shortlisted titles will travel the Low Countries in May and June to talk about literary translation as a profession and about translating the nominated title.

The European Literature Prize is an initiative of the Academic-Cultural Centre Spui25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer and Athenaeum Boekhandel. The following independent bookshops have helped to make it possible:

More information

  • For further information about the European Literature Prize please contact Maaike Pereboom, Promotion and Information Department, Dutch Foundation for Literature, +31 20 520 73 00 or
  • For further information about the Vertalersgeluktournee please contact its organizer, literary translator Nicolette Hoekmeijer, or Hanneke Marttin, Dutch Foundation for Literature, +31 20-520 73 00,
Hanneke Marttin


Hanneke Marttin

Communications coordinator

[email protected]