German Book Award 2021 goes to Antje Rávik Strubel’s BLUE WOMAN

Antje Rávik Strubel’s novel BLUE WOMAN (S. Fischer Verlag) is the winner of the 2021 German Book Award!

Strubel is the translator of works by Joan Didion, Lucia Berlin and Virginia Woolf and was selected as the first Writer in Residence at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies – the place where BLUE WOMAN sets in.

in the jury’s words:

»With existential force and poetic precision, Antje Rávik Strubel describes a young woman’s escape from her memories of rape. Layer by layer, the stirring novel exposes what happened. The story of female self-empowerment expands into a reflection on rival cultures of memory in Eastern and Western Europe and power imbalances between the sexes.

In a tentative narrative movement, Antje Rávik Strubel succeeds in giving voice to what is actually unspeakable about a traumatic experience. In the dialogue with the mythical figure of the Blue Woman, the narrator condenses her intervening poetics: literature as a fragile counter-power that opposes injustice and violence despite all despair

Strubel has published several novels. KÄLTERE SCHICHTEN DER LUFT (2007) was nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize, STURZ DER TAGE IN DIE NACHT (2011) was long-listed for the German Book Prize. In 2019, she was awarded the Preis der Literaturhäuser. Her last publication was the episodic novel IN DEN WÄLDERN DES MENSCHLICHEN HERZENS, published in 2016. Her work has been translated to the Czech, Portuguese and Lithuanian.


Do we have the right to remain silent?

Adina was the last teenager to grew up in her village in the Czech Giant Mountains, and already as a child, longed to get away. While attending a language course in Berlin, she meets a photographer called Rickie, who gets her an internship in an up-and-coming arts and leisure centre in the Uckermark. Rendered invisible by a sexual assault which no one takes seriously, Adina gets stranded in Helsinki after wandering around aimlessly. In the hotel in which she is working illegally, she meets the Estonian Professor Leonides, a Member of the European Parliament, who falls in love with her. While he campaigns for human rights, Adina searches for a way out of her inner exile.

Antje Rávik Strubel’s novel ‚Blue Woman‘, tells in a stirring way of the unequal premises of love, Europe’s abysses and how we normalise the monstrous.