Author Sybille Berg wins 2019 Swiss Book Prize

Born in Germany, Sybille Berg is now based in Zurich. Keystone

Author Sybille Berg has been awarded the 2019 Swiss Book Prize for her dark futuristic novel “GRM. Brainfuck.”

This content was published on November 10, 2019 - 17:44

Berg was awarded the prize and a check for CHF30,000 (nearly $31,000) on Sunday at the BuchBasel book festivalExternal link in the north-western city of Basel. 

Jury member Christine Richard  lauded the novel for its sharp social criticism.

In her book, the author, who was born in the German city of Weimar and now lives in Switzerland, accompanies four young people through a socially divided Great Britain in which artificial intelligence has taken control.

Berg has "succeeded in writing a novel that is formally avant-garde and that captivates the readers in its innermost content," the jury said in its decision.

The four other authors shortlisted will each receive CHF3,000 Swiss francs. The are Simone Lappert, who was nominated for "Der Sprung", Tabea Steiner for "Balg", Alain Claude Sulzer for "Unhaltbare Zustände" and Ivna Žic for "Die Nachkommende".

German-language books in focus

The Swiss Book Prize 2008 was initiated by the Basel Literature Association and the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association (SBVV). Swiss authors or authors living in Switzerland with German-language literary and essayistic works can apply for the Swiss Book Prize.

A total of 71 novels and essays from 45 publishers were reviewed by the jury this year.

The Swiss Book Prize is considered the most important literary award in Switzerland alongside the Grand Prix Literature, which is awarded by the Federal Office of Culture.

While all language regions of Switzerland are considered for the Grand Prix, only German-language works can be awarded the Book Prize.


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