© Bernhard Ludewig

Where: Berlin, Stuttgart, Vienna

When: ongoing, since 2015

With: Publisher Klett-Cotta

Laureate 2020: Ivan Krastev

Since 2015, the Allianz Kulturstiftung has been working with the publisher Klett-Cotta to promote the Jean Améry Prize across Europe which is awarded every other year. A jury composed of prominent international authors, literary scholars and critics reflects the prize‘s pan-European spirit.

The prize is awarded in memory of Jean Améry for outstanding achievement in the field of critically-aware literary essay writing. It is intended to strengthen public interest in current topics and various forms of essay writing, and to promote social discourse.

Améry’s widow initiated the prize with the publisher Klett-Cotta in 1982, it had been awarded to four authors by 1991. The writer Robert Menasse revived the Jean Améry Prize in 2000.

The  Allianz Kulturstiftung and the publishing house Klett-Cotta award the Jean Améry Prize for European Essay Writing 2020 to the outstanding intellectual and publicist Ivan Krastev. The jury, chaired by Robert Menasse, gives the following reasons for its decision to award the 15,000 Euro prize to Ivan Krastev:

"The clarity of thought against the commitment of time – this is one of the things Ivan Krastev and Jean Améry have in common. In his approach to our present, Krastev undermines discursive surfaces, in the spirit of Jean Améry’s concept of enlightenment, in order to focus attention on what is repressed and beyond repair, but all the more reason to be cautious about. In his work, he meticulously examines the question of what democracy and liberalism mean beyond mere phrasing, and makes it clear that they can only be sustained if it is understood anew, time and again, that freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.“

The 2020 jury was composed of author and historian Philipp Blom, writer Ulrike Draesner, literary critic Katja Gasser, publisher and poet Michael Krüger as well as literary scholar Thomas Strässle.

© IWM/ Klaus Ranger & Zsolt Marton
Due to the current Covid-19 crisis the award ceremony on 4 May 2020 at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin had to be cancelled. Laureate Ivan Krastev discussed in a digital edition with philosopher Susan Neiman the impact of Corona on our societies as part of the series of events Berliner Korrespondenzen.

Finally, the award ceremony took place on 17 September 2020 at the Silent Green cultural quarter. The laudatory speech was hold by Shalini Randeria, followed by a discussion with the laureate Ivan Krastev, moderated by Thomas Meaney. The event was organized in cooperation with the International Literature Festival Berlin.
© David Ausserhofer
© David Ausserhofer
© David Ausserhofer
© David Ausserhofer
© David Ausserhofer

In 2018, the Jean Améry Prize was awarded to the Austrian writer Karl-Markus Gauß. The 2018 jury was composed of: Gila Lustiger (Paris), Michael Krüger (Munich), Christina Weiss (former German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Berlin), László Földényi (Budapest) and Robert Menasse (Vienna).

On 2 March 2016, the Jean Améry Prize was given to the Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski at an award ceremony in Berlin. Hungarian literary scholar and jury member László Földényi delivered laudatory remarks. Also on the the 2016 jury were: Gila Lustiger (Paris), Michael Krüger (Munich), Claudio Magris (Trieste), Christina Weiss (former German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Berlin), Robert Menasse (Vienna).