At the end of the European Literature Days, which took place online this time, the Austrian book trade’s 10,000-euro honorary award for tolerance in thought and action was awarded to the writer AL Kennedy as part of a literary-musical matinee on Sunday morning – via live broadcast from Krems. The award has been given since 1990, most recently to Elif Shafak, Ilija Trojanow and Francesca Melandri.
AL Kennedy, born as Alison Louise Kennedy in Dundee (Scotland) in 1965, became famous with her first novel “Invitation to Dance” (2001). She has been awarded numerous important literary prizes. Kennedy has lived in London since 2012 and teaches creative writing at the University of Warwick. She was a sharp critic of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war under Prime Minister Tony Blair. “Süßer Ernst” was last published in German in 2018. Since the beginning of 2020 she has been writing a weekly column about her view of Brexit for the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
The jury’s reasoning was: “AL Kennedy’s novels and stories are profound and daring and are among the artistically most important works of contemporary literature. For this they have received numerous awards, including the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. At the same time, AL Kennedy is not afraid to regularly include hers Raising a voice against intolerance, marginalization and injustice while warning that the lack of humanity goes hand in hand with the lack of culture and the disregard for art. Her commitment to a more tolerant world ranges from internationally acclaimed journalistic interventions to working on projects in district centers , Prisons or hospitals and is based on the conviction that art and literature can illuminate life and help to meet the challenges of our world more emphatically. “
Greetings from Krems Mayor Reinhard Resch (SPÖ) (“Without art and culture we would not only be quiet, but also blind”), from State Secretary for Culture Andrea Mayer (Greens) (“Despite all adversities, the Literature Days have picked up the thread again “) and by the Lower Austrian ÖVP Provincial Councilor Martin Eichtinger (” Our treasure is the diversity of cultures and languages ”). The laudation of the journalist Sonja Zekri came from Munich in the form of a critical appreciation. Kennedy uses the instinct of an avalanche dog to recognize conditions, according to Zekri. The trio Mario Rom “s Interzone with Mario Rom (trumpet), Lukas Kranzelbinder (bass) and Herbert Pirker (drums) also provided jazzy interludes.
Walter Grond, Director of the European Literature Days, and Benedikt Föger, President of the Main Association of the Austrian Book Trade, congratulated them from the sound space Krems Minoritenkirche. Föger’s statement that culture is not a luxury, but rather establishes the identity of a society, was confirmed by Kennedy in the following screen conversation with presenter Rosie Goldsmith. Kennedy commented on the concept of tolerance with reservations: tolerance is not enough, one should rather love one another. Because hatred always comes back and it has a destructive effect. The text that the award winner read at the end was also kept in this spirit: a hopeful outlook for the post-Covid era.
(SERVICE – European Literature Days 2020: All events can be viewed online free of charge via www.youtube.com/c/LiteraturhausEuropa)