Irina Liebmann receives the Uwe Johnson Prize 2020

Irina Liebmann receives the Uwe Johnson Prize for her book DIE GROSSE HAMBURGER STRASSE (Schöffling & Co.)! Earlier recipients include Uwe Tellkamp, Lutz Seiler and Ralf Rothmann.

Grosse Hamburger Straße is located in the centre of old Berlin. Virtually nothing is left of this old centre, because over the decades the buildings were continually altered, displaced, torn down and finally bombed, but each time rebuilt anew.

Grosse Hamburger Straße is a short street. It doesn’t take long to walk down it. Yet it’s easy to linger, struck by its buildings, its history, the stories and secrets of its former and current inhabitants.

What would it be like to travel back in time, wandering into the street’s past yet knowing what one knows today? Irina Liebmann walks down memory lane, weaving stories, buildings and eras into an almost dream-like portrait of a vanished Berlin.

A mysterious, atmospheric book full of love and farewells, about the vitality of the past and the transience of the present.

»Irina Liebmann’s prose is powerful and direct.« Der Tagesspiegel

»Exciting to read as fragments finally open up a clear window of time, and the past becomes present.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Poetic prose with the emotional depth of poetry.« Märkische Onlinezeitung

»The wiped-out Jewish life of the Berlin Mitte district is still present in this strong and disquieting text.«Berliner Zeitung

»In a specific old-fashioned language, interspersed with questions, exclamations and echoes from everyday language, Irina Liebmann opens up a space that resonates far beyond Berlin-Mitte.« Wiener Zeitung

Irina Liebmann, born in Moscow, now lives in Berlin and has worked as a freelance writer since 1975. She has won numerous prizes, including the Berlin Literary Prize, the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair and now the Uwe Johnson Prize.