Saša Stanišić wins Nelly Sachs Prize 2023


Our author Saša Stanišić has been awarded the Nelly Sachs Prize Laureate 2023 (Nelly-Sachs-Preis der Stadt Dortmund).

With the literary prize named after Nelly Sachs, the City of Dortmund honours and supports individuals every two years who demonstrate outstanding creative achievements in the realm of literary and intellectual life and contribute to the enhancement of cultural relations between nations. The laureates stand for tolerance, respect, and reconciliation, embodying these values in a globalized society, where they advocate for peaceful coexistence.


From the jury's rationale:

"Saša Stanišić stands as a familiar figure within contemporary literature, consistently enthralling readers across generations from the outset of his literary journey. His body of work is characterised by its linguistic finesse, intricate narratives, authentic character portrayals, and meticulously constructed fictional universes. Moreover, his playful exploration of the boundaries of language and narrative transforms the reception of his novels into an intellectually stimulating engagement.

 At the core of Stanišić’s writing lies a profound exploration of the theme of escape, akin to the approach taken by Nelly Sachs, who artfully preserved her literary heritage. In a similar vein, Stanišić carries forward the narrative tapestry of Balkan cultures. His prose bears the indelible mark of his endeavour to confront even the most harrowing experiences endured by himself and his family in Yugoslavia and later in Germany while infusing them with irony and humour, without trivialising them.

 Above all, his texts exert an extraordinary magnetic pull, fully immersing readers in the characters. Through this potential for emotional identification, he enables his readers to comprehend the described experiences and live them vicariously. In this way,  Stanišić opens a unique dimension of communication that connects cultures and people on an emotional level."


In an initial response, the author extends gratitude with a Nelly Sachs quote: "'Everything begins with a yearning' – this is how Nelly Sachs begins a poem," states Saša Stanišić. "My very early yearnings were for stories and still are: listening, narrating. My heartfelt thanks for entrusting them with this prize."

Former Nelly Sachs Prize Laureates: Nadine Gordimer (1985), Milan Kundera (1987), Javier Marias (1997), Christa Wolf (1999), Per Olov Enquist (2003), Margaret Atwood (2009) und Marie N’Diaye (2015).

Saša Stanišićs works have sold almost 1 million copies in German alone and been translated into 29 languages.


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