The Austrian Theodor Kramer Prize, rewarding writers in resistance or in exile, was awarded to the Kurdish author Meral Şimşek and Austrian essayist Gerhard Fritz Oberschlick, for the year 2022.
Founded in 1984, the Theodor Kramer Society has awarded since 2001 “Theodor Kramer Preis für Schreiben im Widerstand und im Exil” (Theodor Kramer Prize for writing in resistance and in exile). It honors not only literary quality but also the attitude and fate of the laureates and is not exclusively reserved to Austrian authors and to persons expelled from Austria. Writing in German is not a requirement either.
Through this prize, the Theodor Kramer Society “simply wishes to send a signal indicating that all of Austria does not travel in a single direction, that it is a country with its own inner contradictions and that, despite its contradictions and its inner struggles, this country also moves forward.”
Laureates are determined by the Theodor Kramer Society’s board of governors on the basis of jury recommendation. It is a prize of recognition to which one cannot apply.
This year’s prize will be shared by two laureates: Meral Şimşek and Gerhard Fritz Oberschlick, an Austrian essayist. He is the former editor-in-chief of the political and cultural magazine FORVM. Under his editorial direction the magazine became well known for its intellectual and social criticism, anti-fascism and the struggle for human rights. Today, Gerhard Fritz Oberschlick is the literary executor of Günther Anders’ will.
Born in Diyarbakır, Meral Şimşek is a member of Kurdish PEN, of the Association of Kurdish writers (Kürt Edebiyatçılar Derneği), and of the Mesopotamian Association of Kurdish writers (Mezopotamya Yazarlar Derneği). Her writings have received numerous prizes and been translated into several languages, and other translations are in progress, notably in German. Meral has published three collections of poems Mülteci Düşler, Ateşe Bulut Yağdıran, İncir Karası and one novel Nar Lekesi . And, very recently Arzela, a book containing seven short stories and an article presenting them. The first edition of the book, the title of which refers to a wild rose endemic in the lands of Helfeti — and which only grows there — was quickly sold out, and a second edition is in the works. Her sixth book, Kavimler Toplamı Yokluk, still unpublished, is also currently being translated.
Meral Şimşek shares here her reaction and her feelings:
“It is unbelievably moving to be acknowledged as worthy of this prize. Because it represents a very precious distinction in my eyes, and can be considered as a double reward, where the power of your pen and of your resistance are acknowledged jointly. The fact of receiving this prize as a Kurdish woman takes on yet another different level of beauty.
And so I dedicate this prize to all the Kurdish women who resist. Moreover, I wish to express my infinite gratitude to the team at Kedistan, Naz Oke, Renée Lucie Bourges, Öykü Tekten and Burhan Sönmez, for their translations of my articles that were thus made accessible to the evaluation committee who read them in this fashion.
I take this opportunity to reiterate yet again that we, Kurdish women shall never give up and that we will keep on moving forward relentlessly”
You can make the author’s acquaintance through this interview she gave a few months ago to Kedistan: A conversation with Kurdish author Meral Şimşek. And discover her story and her literature through this link. In this archive you will learn, notably, the story of her attempt at leaving Turkey, how she came to the difficult decision of leaving her country, the violences to which she was subjected on the uncertain road of migration, particularly in Greece, written in her pen…
The cats at Kedistan warmly congratulate Meral for this well-deserved prize, both for her literature and for her struggle, her resistance, and are more than happy to learn that their translations here served as references for the jury members in their becoming acquainted with her fine pen and thus reaching their decision…
Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges
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