Luxembourg's Ministry of Culture has announced the winners of the 2022 National Literary Competition.
This year's jury, composed of Pascal Seil (president), Mylène Branco, Marion Rockenbrod, Jeff Schinker and Jeff Thoss, has just selected the winners of this year's National Literary Competition, dedicated to collections of stories in the Luxembourgish, French, German and / or English languages.
The jury awarded first prize (€5,000) in the adult authors category to John-Paul Gomez for his English-language work "The Idiot of St. Benedict" (selected out of 40 submitted manuscripts). The jury was seduced by the audacity of a project that dares to shape a dystopian, more or less science-fictional world. Following an inventive first story, which oscillates between historical novel and science fiction, the stories that follow demonstrate, in the jury's opinion, both stylistic concision, originality of subject and mastery of prodigious English language without being over-the-top. In addition, the collection manages to immerse its readers in its slightly dreamlike world through an almost cinematic atmosphere. The jury also found the characters and narrators intriguing, not least due to the shift between realism, dystopia and surrealism.
Second prize (€2,000) in this category went to Guy Helminger for his short stories "Das Geräusch der Stillleben" (the sound of still life). The jury enjoyed these humorous and slightly absurd short stories at the heart of which are individuals on the margins of society. According to the jury, the author continues his exploration around the notion of reality and plants characters who despair of finding meaning in a world which, if not necessarily devoid of it, refuses to give itself up to man.
Third prize (€1,250) went to Elise Schmit with "Perfect Spheres – Stories and Complaints" whose slow pace, on the surface of which simmers often toxic tensions between characters, was appreciated by the jury. The diversity of its four stories is balanced by thematic links constructed with intelligence and subtlety, according to the jury.
Zeynep Celik was awarded an encouragement prize (€500) in the young authors aged twelve to nineteen category for her work "Do women love?". Due to a very limited number of submissions (four manuscripts in total), the jury decided not to award a prize but instead awarded, with the exceptional agreement of Luxembourg's Minister of Culture, an incentive prize to Zeynep Celik to encourage the young author to continue her work and craft a promising first draft.
The jury noted an abundance of manuscripts in English this year, contrasted with a shortage of texts in Luxembourgish; only one collection in Luxembourgish was submitted.
The official awards ceremony for the 2022 National Literary Competition will take place on Tuesday 13 December 2022 at 19:30 at the Centre National de Littérature (CNL) in Mersch.
Since 1978, the Ministry of Culture has organised the National Literary Competition to encourage literary creation in Luxembourg. Each year, the competition is dedicated to a different literary genre. The 2022 edition focused on collections of stories.