Sharon Dodua Otoo and the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Prize

The Ingeborg-Bachmann-Prize is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the German-speaking literary field. It is awarded during the festival “Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur” in Klagenfurt, Austria. The prize money – 25,000€ – is as high as the endowment of the German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis) and the Peace Prize of the German Bookmarket (Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels), two other major German book prizes. One of the things that is special about the prize is that the contestants have to read from their unpublished manuscripts during the literary festival surrounding the award ceremony! The prize was named after the author Ingeborg Bachmann (short overview about her life and works: link) and was awarded for the 40th time in 2016.

“What actually is possible, however, is transformation. And the transformative effect that emanates from new works leads us to new perception, to a new feeling, new consciousness.”
Ingeborg Bachmann’s Frankfurt Lectures on Poetics (1959-60)

In 2016, Sharon Dodua Otoo won the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Prize with her remarkable short story „Herr Gröttrup setzte sich hin“. The jury’s comments (in German) can be found here: link.

Sharon Dodua Otoo describes herself as “Black British mother, activist, author and editor. Black is deliberately written with a capital B.”

Here is the link to a recommendable interview (in German) with the author by Marie-Sophie Adeoso (Frankfurter Rundschau) about racism, language politics, and being part of the German literary field (link).

And you might also be interested in this interview with her from 2015 in which she talks about her work as an editor for “Witnessed”, a series of novels, plays, and non-fiction  that focuses on the stories of Black authors who have lived in Germany (Edition Assemblage).

  • link to the interview by Nicolette Stewart in Young Germany
  • link to the website to the website of Edition Assemblage, Münster, “an undogmatic left political and publishing network of different people, projects and media.”


For further reading:

  • The author’s website (in English): link
  • Link to the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis website (in German): link
  • Statements from the jury (in German): link
  • Short piece in the Guardian about the Sharon Dodua Otoo winning the prize (in English): link