Erich Fried Prize 2021 goes to Frank Witzel
Welcoming address: • Robert Schindel (President of the International Erich Fried Society)
Greetings and introduction of the juror, Ingo Schulze: • Robert Huez (Director Literaturhaus Vienna)
Tribute: • Ingo Schulze, sole juror 2021
Award presentation: • Jürgen Meindl (Director of the Arts and Culture Division of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sports)
Acceptance Speech: • Frank Witzel
Vocals: • Cosima Büsing | Piano: • Stella Marie Lorenz | Composer: • Bernhard Lang
Ingo Schulze’s jury decision (excerpt):
It is difficult to sum up Frank Witzel’s complex work in compact sentences. Nevertheless, it is only in the past seven years, mostly in the past few years, that he has begun to receive the recognition he deserves from the literary public.
Whether prose, poetry, essays, discussions, diaries, audio plays or readings, Frank Witzel is one of the few writers who, whatever the genre, always reflects on the conditions of writing itself, exposing the relativity of his position and questioning himself as he does so. In the process, he makes his readers into autonomous discussion partners.
Witzel’s West German trilogy [Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969 (2015); Direkt danach und kurz davor (2017); Inniger Schiffbruch (2020); The invention of the Red Army Faction by a manic-depressive teenager in the summer of 1969 (2015), Right After and Shortly Before (2017), and Intimate Shipwreck (2020)] is a portrait of (becoming) West Germany, exposing the influences, usually taken for granted, that shaped those who grew up there. And because Frank Witzel is so unsparing in his exploration of the West, the East is always also present. Like no other writer, Witzel exposes (from a Western perspective) the mutual contingencies of East and West.