A bilingual Russian novelist has won a prestigious literary award in Germany, the Roswitha Prize. The oldest German-language award for literature is given solely to women.
Among the previous winners are two Nobel Prize winners – the author of Lust and The Piano Teacher, Austrian novelist Elfriede Jelinek, and a Romanian-born writer showing a strong influence from Franz Kafka, Herta Muller.
The first-ever Russian winner of the Roswitha Prize, Olga Martynova, is based in Germany, where she writes poems in her native Russian language, creating prose in German.
“With this award we praise the cosmopolitan writer whose musicality, wit and impressive knowledge enrich our literary landscape,” the Roswitha Prize jury stated.
Martynova’s novel Even the Parrots Outlive Us, entitled after a direct quote from The Wandering Jews by celebrated Austrian journalist and novelist Joseph Roth, has been described as one of “the best to appear in German-language literature in recent times.”
Referred to as a “perfect example of intellectualism in the best, traditional sense of the word,” the decision to award the Russian wordsmith was also explained by the fact that Martynova “gives us an opportunity to grasp again the meaning of the statement that literature’s home is where thoughtful and free people have fresh air to breathe.”
“We are honored that Olga Martynova is living in Germany,” members of the jury summed up.