The writer Elke Erb receives the Georg Büchner Prize 2020. This was announced by the German Academy for Language and Poetry. Erb has been the eleventh woman to receive the award since 1951. The award is scheduled for October 31 in Darmstadt.
With Elke Erb, the Academy honors a distinctive and independent life's work, the beginnings of which lay in the GDR in 1975 and which has continued unabatedly to the present day. "For the undaunted educator, poetry is a political and highly active form of knowledge," judged the jury.
The 82-year-old Erb lives in Berlin, was born in the Eifel in 1938 and moved to Halle in the GDR with the family in 1949. After studying German, Slavic and Pedagogy, she worked as a lecturer before working as a freelance writer and translator from 1966. She mainly translated works from Russian. Her own work includes poetry, short prose, procedural texts, translations, reprints and editions.
"Stand out through works to a special degree"
Erb's debut report, poetry and prose (1975) followed The Thread of Patience (1978). Her work on an anthology of "unofficial literature" and her protest against the expatriation of civil rights activist Roland Jahn led to surveillance by the State Security Service. In 1987 she published the volume Kastanienallee, which was critically described as epochal . Texts and comments .
Erb was honored with numerous awards, including the Ernst Jandl Prize 2013 and the Federal Cross of Merit 2019.
The prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, is the most important literary award in Germany. The award winners include Max Frisch (1958), Günter Grass (1965) and Heinrich Böll (1967) and most recently since 2015 Rainald Goetz, Marcel Beyer, Jan Wagner and Terézia Mora. The award is named after the playwright and revolutionary Georg Büchner. He was born in the Grand Duchy of Hesse in 1813 and died in Zurich in 1837.
The Swiss writer and playwright Lukas Bärfuss was awarded in 2019. The jury saw him as an outstanding narrator and playwright of contemporary German-language literature. The academy has been awarding the award to writers who write in German since 1951. The award winners must "stand out to a special degree through their work and works" and "have a significant part in shaping the current German cultural life".