Luebeck – The American novelist Jonathan Franzen was awarded the Thomas Mann Prize 2022 on Friday. In a ceremony, Lübeck’s Mayor Jan Lindenau and the President of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, Winfried Nerdinger, presented the prize, which is endowed with 25,000 euros. German literature means a lot to him, said Franzen. It is therefore a great honor for him that he has also found an audience in Germany.
The jury honored Franzen for his narrative work, which revived the tradition of the great society and family novel by authors such as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Thomas Mann in the 21st century. Franzen, who was born in 1959, wrote his name in contemporary world literature at the latest with his third novel, “The Corrections”, which was published in 2001, according to the justification for the award.
Using the example of a chronically unhappy family, “The Corrections” draws a dazzling panorama of American society with its longings and abysses. A good 100 years after Thomas Mann’s “Buddenbrooks”, the worldwide success of this novel led to a renaissance of the German-language family novel.
“It is very important for me to receive this award and to be recognized as an American in Germany,” said Franzen. He said of Thomas Mann: “In addition to his magistral presence, his magnificent prose and long sentences, he is characterized by complete intellectual mastery of every subject. But inside he was a mess.” That’s probably true of most writers, but Thomas Mann is a particularly striking example of this contrast between the accomplished work and the chaos inside himself and in his family, Franzen said.
The Thomas Mann Prize emerged from the Thomas Mann Prize of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck and the Great Literature Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. Previous winners have included Norbert Gstrein, Nora Bossong, Brigitte Kronauer and Julie Zeh.