28th Rheingau Literature Prize to Judith Hermann

The German author Annette Pehnt was awarded the 27th Rheingau Literature Prize on 27.9.2020 for her novel "Alles was Sie sehen ist neu" at Schwarzenstein Castle in Geisenheim-Johannisberg. The honor, initiated by the Rheingau Literature Festival, was awarded for the twenty-seventh time this year. The prize is endowed with 11,111 euros and 111 bottles of the best Rheingau Rieslings. The Hessian Ministry of Science and Art and the Rheingau Music Festival e.V. are each donating 5,000 euros of the prize, which will be supplemented by 1,111 euros from the Relais & Châteaux Hotel Burg Schwarzenstein. The exquisite wines come from the outstanding cellars of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates Rheingau. The laudatory speech for Annette Pehnt was held by Andreas Platthaus, head of the "Literature and Literary Life" department of the F.A.Z. and member of the jury for the Rheingau Literature Prize.

Jury's assessment

In 'Everything you see is new' Annette Pehnt tells of the journey of a group of German cultural citizens to a Far Eastern country called Kirthan. They come with fixed expectations, but they find a state in deep ambivalence between tradition and advance into modernity. All western truths and wisdom come to an end there, and soon the travel program is threatened with termination. At this moment Annette Pehnts novel leaves the Germans and follows the traces of the Kirthian tour guide to the stations of his life over three decades. The European perspective is refocused, before the book's furious finale juxtaposes the hubris of a well-read understanding of the power of listening and telling stories. Everything you see is new' seeks the balance between Orient and Occident, collectivism and individualism, allegory and observation. The book is a roman à clef, because it opens the world. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Rheingau Literatur Preis

The Rheingau Literature Prize is endowed with 11,111 euros and 111 bottles of the best Rheingau Rieslings and honors outstanding German-language prose of the last twelve months. Initiated by the Rheingau Literature Festival, the award will be presented for the twenty-seventh time this year. The cash prize of 11,111 euros is supported by the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art and the Rheingau Music Festival e. V. with 5000 euros each. The main sponsor of the Rheingau Literature Festival, Burg Schwarzenstein Relais & Châteaux, is topping up the sum by 1,111 euros. The Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates Rheingau is providing 111 bottles of the best Rheingau wine.

The Jury

  • Prof. Dr. Heiner Boehncke
    Artistic director of the Rheingau literature festival, publicist and literary scientist

  • Dr. Alf Mentzer
    Literary editor hr2-kultur

  • Dr. Viola Bolduan
    former head of feuilleton by Wiesbadener Kurier

  • Andreas Platthaus
    head of literature by F.A.Z.

  • Dr. Insa Wilke
    independent literary critic from Berlin

The previous laureates

Stefanie Menzinger, „Schlangenbaden“ (1994)
Ulla Berkéwicz, „Mordad“(1995)
Herbert Maurer, „Ein Rabenflug“ (1996)
Thomas Meinecke, „Tomboy“ (1997)
Hella Eckert, „Hanomag“ (1998)
Thomas Lehr, „Nabokovs Katze“ (1999)
Peter Stamm, „Agnes“ und „Blitzeis“ (2000)
Bodo Kirchhoff, „Parlando“ (2001)
Robert Gernhardt, „Im Glück und anderswo“ (2002)
Reinhard Jirgl, „Die Unvollendeten“ (2003)
Ralf Rothmann, „Junges Licht“ (2004)
Gert Loschütz, „Dunkle Gesellschaft“ (2005)
Clemens Meyer, „Als wir träumten“ (2006)
Antje Rávic Strubel, „Kältere Schichten der Luft“ (2007)
Ursula Krechel, „Shanghai fern von wo“ (2008)
Christoph Peters, „Mitsukos Restaurant“ (2009)
Jochen Schimmang, „Das Beste, was wir hatten“ (2010)
Josef Haslinger, „Jáchymov” (2011)
Sten Nadolny, „Weitlings Sommerfrische“ (2012)
Ralph Dutli, „Soutines letzte Fahrt“ (2013)
Stephanie Bart, „Deutscher Meister“ (2014)
Klaus Modick, „Konzert ohne Dichter“ (2015)
Saša Stanišić, „Fallensteller" (2016)
Ingo Schulze, „Peter Holtz. Sein glückliches Leben erzählt von ihm selbst" (2017)
Robert Seethaler, „Das Feld" (2018)
Dörte Hansen, „Mittagsstunde" (2019)

Minister of Arts and Culture Angela Dorn: "With 'Alles was sie sehen ist neu', Annette Pehnt has given us an impressive novel that refocuses the European perspective and takes us on an entertaining journey. I congratulate her on the Rheingau Literature Prize and am delighted that we are actively supporting this award as part of our promotion of literature. My thanks go to the committee, which each year awards the prize with a fine sense of humor to authors who deal with topics of our time in outstanding prose at an artistically high level.

From Andreas Platthaus' laudation: "Annette Pehnt is just the right author for the Rheingau Literature Prize. The book for which she is being honored is called 'Alles was Sie sehen ist neu'. What we read in it is also new - a sensitive look into the structures of a dictatorship. It is called 'Kirthan', but it is not difficult to discover China behind it. There an encounter of Orient and Occident takes place, where a local tour guide leads a German group of visitors. From the power of his stories the image of the modern Kirthan should arise, but he also knows the other side of the country. The great narrator Annette Pehnt has the same ideal as her main character: presence, understood in time and spirit. This requires curiosity: 'I have never given up the gaze that wants to capture everything,' Annette Pehnt has noted. But curiosity also encompasses the process of writing itself, and so we can read the title 'Everything you see is new' programmatically: None of this writer's many books resembles it."  

Annette Pehnt, born in Cologne in 1967, has been a freelance writer since 2001, since when she has published numerous novels, including "House of Turtles", "Bullying", "Chronicle of Proximity" and "Letters to Charley", as well as children's books such as "The Barbeiß". She lives with her family in Freiburg and heads the Studio for Literary Writing and Literary Studies at the University of Hildesheim.