Founded in 1987 by the initiative “LiBeraturpreis e.V.”, this audience award has been organized by Litprom since 2013. It is given to an especially popular book by a female writer from Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Arab World. The award was created in response to the fact that translations of contemporary works by women authors from these countries are still highly underrepresented on the German book market. These female voices still do not get as much attention from the media, with only a few exceptions, such as Assia Djebar, Marjane Satrapi or, more recently, Taiye Selasi. As a result, the stereotype of women as weak, needy victims in society continues to persist. However, in reality, it is virtually impossible to continue to ignore the confident female voices being raised around the world today – including those of very young authors.
Initially created to give a platform to female voices from the global South, today the award promotes a wide diversity of voices.
The award owes its impact to the support of YogiTea. The winner receives 3,000 euros and an invitation to Frankfurter Buchmesse. YogiTea also provides financial support to help the winner implement a literary project of her choice in her home country, aimed at giving girls and young women the chance for a better future – such as a course to improve literacy or a writing workshop for young female authors, for example.
All books by female writers included on the previous year’s “Weltempfänger” lists are automatically nominated for the award. There are usually about six to eight books by women writers on these lists each year, for a share of about 20 to 30 per cent. Since 2016, the winner has been chosen by a public online vote, giving everyone interested in world literature the opportunity to vote for their favourite author.
In 2018, Nguyen Ngoc Tu from Vietnam won the award for a collection of short stories. In its laudatory speech, the jury stated: “The Mekong Delta south of Ho Chi Minh City: It is here that Nguyen Ngoc Tu’s characters float on the river, get married and divorced again, break up and spend the rest of their lives searching for each other. Stories full of longing – concisely and densely told.”