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Vilenica Prize goes to Bulgarian-German writer Ilija Trojanow

Ljubljana, 30 May - The annual Vilenica Prize, awarded in Slovenia to a writer from Central Europe, goes to Bulgarian-German writer Ilija Trojanow. The Slovenian author in focus of the 33rd Vilenica Festival taking place between 4 and 9 September will be writer Mojca Kumerdej.

Lipica
Vilenica festival logo.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The jury described Trojanow as "one of the strongest literary voices of central Europe and one of the most influential critical thinkers of the modern global world", a jury member Vesna Kondrič Horvat told the press on Wednesday.

According to her, Trojanow believes the present-day literature is strongly marked by multilingual authors, whom he calls language switchers.

"This is where the writer sees an opportunity to learn about the world from the outside," she said, noting that a new language opened a new world, which was an important experience in today's global world, marked by migration and unfortunately also xenophobia."

Trojanow is another Vilenica Prize laureate with an "extremely critical and firm position, which he convincingly puts into words in his documentary literature and very poetically in his essays, novels and poems", Kondrič Horvat said.

According to the newspaper Primorske Novice, the media sponsor of the international literary festival, Trojanow said he was honoured to be selected the winner.

"The Vilenica Prize means a lot to me, because it is international and the list of the past laureates is incredible, as if it were an alternative Nobel Prize. There are so many writers there that I admire, for example Dževad Karahasan and David Albahari."

Last year the prize went to Ukrainian writer Yurii Andrukhovych.

Born in Sofia in 1965, Trojanow emigrated to Germany with his parents in 1971. After four years of primary school, his family moved to Kenya. Trojanow lived in Nairobi until 1984 with one interruption from 1977-1981, and attended a German school in Nairobi.

After graduation, he moved to Paris, and then studied law and ethnology at the Munich University from 1985 to 1989.

He interrupted his studies in 1989 to found two publishers specialised in African literature.

In 1999 Trojanow moved to Mumbai and became intensely involved with Indian culture. He has lived in Cape Town, returned to Germany, and then to Austria, where he currently resides in Vienna.

A breakthrough in his writing career was the novel "Der Weltensammler" (The Collector of Worlds) in 2006, which has been translated to more than 30 languages. He wrote the book after his travels in India and Tanzania.

Trojanow has written more than 30 books. According to Kondrič Horvat, he is a trans-cultural author who is is open to diversity and is at home in many worlds.

Apart from The Collector of Worlds, his novel about humans destroying our planet Eistau (The Lamentations of Zeno) and his essay about neo-liberal capitalism Der Überflüssige Mensch (The Superfluous Human) have been translated to Slovenian.

The Slovenian author in focus of this year's Vilenica Festival between 4 and 9 September will be writer Mojca Kumerdej.

Born in 1964, Kumerdej has so far written two novels - Krst nad Triglavom (The Baptism Over Mount Triglav) in 2001 and Kronosova žetev (Chronos's Harvest) in 2016. For the latter she received the award of the critics and the Prešeren Fund Prize.

She has also written two collections of short stories - Fragma (2003) and Temna Snov (Dark Matter, 2011).

She received the Vilenica Crystal for the best contribution to the festival's literary evenings at the 2006 Vilenica festival.

Kumerdej told Primorske Novice that she was happy to be given the main role at this year's festival, especially because her Fragma will be released in English by the US publisher Dalkey Archive Press on the occasion.

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© STA, 2018