13 January 2023

Heinrich Mann Prize 2023 to György Dalos

This year, the Akademie der Künste is awarding its Heinrich Mann Prize to György Dalos. The Hungarian author, historian and translator is one of the most important figures mediating between Eastern and Western Europe. The jury consisted of Ingo Schulze, Jutta Person and Lothar Müller. The prize for essay writing, which is endowed with € 10,000, will be awarded at the Akademie der Künste on Pariser Platz on 28 March 2023, the day after Heinrich Mann’s birthday, Recent award winners were Lothar Müller (2022), Kathrin Passig (2021) and Eva Horn (2020).

The jury commented that György Dalos’ substantial body of work covers a broad spectrum of topics that are implemented in his native Hungary, ranging from the division of Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union to the project of illiberal democracy. His brand of criticism is always self-critical as well; his humour can veer into sarcasm and his wordplay is incisive and illuminating. “Anyone who reads György Dalos will gain new insight not just into contemporary European history but into the entire genealogy of the present,” read the jurors’ summary in their award statement.

Short biography of the award winner
György Dalos was born in Budapest in 1943 and lives in Berlin. He spent his childhood with his grandmother following the death of his father in 1945 as a result of the hardships suffered in the labour camp he had been consigned to because of his family’s Jewish origins. From 1962 to 1967 he studied history at Lomonosov Moscow State University and then worked as a museologist in Budapest. His first volume of poetry appeared in 1964. In 1968 he received a seven-month suspended prison sentence for “Maoist activities”. Following the imposition of a professional ban that also stopped him from publishing to some extent, he worked as a translator. In 1977 he helped found the democratic opposition movement in Hungary. In 1984 he was a guest of the DAAD’s Artists-in-Berlin Programme and joined the staff of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. In 1988/89 he was on the editorial team of the East German underground magazine Ostkreuz. Between 1992 and 1996 he was on the board of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. From 1995 to 1999 he was director of the “House of Hungary” in Berlin and coordinated the Frankfurt Book Fair’s focus on Hungary in 1999. He was co-editor of the German weekly Freitag until the end of 2011. He has been a member of the Saxon Academy of Arts since 1997 and was secretary of the Literature and Language Class there from 2014 to 2016.

Prizes and awards
Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, Andreas Gryphius Prize, Milán Füst Prize, Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding, Golden Plaque of the President of the Hungarian Republic, Officer’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Publications (selection)
Meine Lage in der Lage. Gedichte und Geschichten (1979), Mein Großvater und die Weltgeschichte (1985), The Circumcision (2006/ in German 1985), Der Versteckspieler: Eine Geschichte (1994), Der Rock meiner Großmutter: Frühe Prosa (1996), Der Gottsucher: Eine Geschichte (1999), Ungarn in der Nussschale: Geschichte meines Landes (2004), Die Balaton-Brigade: Eine Geschichte (2006), Jugendstil: Eine Geschichte (2007), Der Fall des Ökonomen (2012). All the books by the author published in German were edited by Elsbeth Zylla.