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Sebald’s Literary Prizes and Awards

During the span of scarcely more than a decade, W.G. Sebald won numerous book and literary awards. Several of these awards have their own commemorative publications, which are challenging to discover and collect. Here is a list of the prizes won by Sebald along with information on the related publication if I own it. I welcome comments about any awards or award-related publications that are not mentioned here.

1991. Fedor Malchow Lyrikpreis for Nach der Nature. This prize for poetry is named after poet Fedor Malchow (1905-1978).

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1994. Johannes Bobrowski Medaille (medal), Berliner Literaturpreis. Sebald was one of six Berlin Literature Prize winners in 1994. Bobrowksi (1917-1965), after whom Sebald’s medal was named, was a Russian-born German writer. The associated publication, Der Berliner Literaturpreis 1994 (Berlin: Verlag Volk & Welt, 1996) curiously contains an excerpt from Der Ringe des Saturn titled Dunwich Heath & Middleton, even though that book hadn’t been published at the time of the award. It wasn’t published until 1995, the year between the award and the commemorative publication.

1994. Preis der Literatour Nord.

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In 1996, Sebald became a member of the Deutschen Akademie, or German Academy. A very brief statement by Sebald is included in the academy’s publication Wie sie sich selber Sehen: Antrittsreden der Mitglieder vor dem Kellegium der Deutschen Akademie (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 1999).(May 20, 2007. I had forgotten that Sebald’s statement has been published in English as “Acceptance Speech to the Collegium of the German Academy.” It can be found as the final chapter in the posthumous book of Sebald’s essays Campo Santo.)

1997. Heinrich Böll Preis der Stadt Köln.

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1997. Mörike Preis der Stadt Fellbach. A triennial prize awarded by the city of Fellbach. In 2000, a commemorative volume was published celebrating the previous decade’s winners: Mörike-Preis der Stadt Fellbach 1991-2000: Ein Lesebuch (Fellbach: Stadt Fellbach, 2000). The section on Sebald is rather extensive and runs to 47 pages. It opens with the speech (and poem!) given by the mayor of Fellbach and is followed by Sigrid Löffler’s address on Sebald. The volume includes the text of Sebald’s acceptance speech, which he dedicated to the namesake of the prize, the German Romantic poet Eduard Friedrich Mörike (1804-1875): Was ich traure ich nicht – Kleines Andenken an Mörike and an excerpt from Die Ausgewanderten. During the same year, Wolfgang Schlüter, an essayist and music historian, was awarded a Förderpreis and the text of Sebald’s Laudatio auf Wolfgang Schlüter is also included.

1998. Los Angeles Times Book Award.

2000. Joseph Breitbach Preis. Sebald was one of three winners of the 2000 prize.

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2000. Heinrich Heine Preis der Stadt Düsseldorf. Sebald was awarded the sole prize for the year 2000. The commemorative booklet Verleihung Des Heine-Preis 2000 Der Landeshauptstadt Dusseldorf an W.G. Sebald (Dusseldorf: XIM Virgines, 2000) contains the laudatory speech Melancholie als Widerstand by Irene Heidelberger-Leonard (scholar and editor of Jean Améry’s works) and Sebald’s speech entitled Die Alpen im Meer – ein Reisebild.

2001. National Book Critics Circle Award. For Austerlitz.

2002. Independent Foreign Literature Prize. In 2002, the British newspaper The Independent posthumously recognized Sebald for Austerlitz. Sebald’s friend and colleague, Gordon Turner, Professor Emeritus of German at the University of East Anglia, accepted the award on behalf of Sebald’s widow, Ute.

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