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European Union Prize for Literature announces the 2021 laureates

  • Jasmina Kanuric
  • 18 May, 2021

The European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) recognises emerging fiction writers from the European Union and beyond. Engaging the 41 countries participating in the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, the Prize celebrates 41 outstanding new literary talents across a cycle of three years. Spotlighting the creativity and the immense and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature in the field of fiction, EUPL aims to promote the circulation of literature within Europe and encourage greater interest in non-national literary works. The 2021 edition awards thirteen* laureates from the countries participating in this cycle. 


We are pleased to announce this year’s thirteen* laureates: 

  • Albania: Enkel Demi (pen name Tom Kuka), Flama (Calamity), Publisher: Botime Pegi.
  • Armenia: Արամ Պաչյան (Aram Pachyan), P/F (P/F), Publisher: Էջ հրատարակչություն (Edge publishing house).
  • Bulgaria: Георги Бърдаров (Georgi Bardarov), Absolvo te (Absolvo te), Publisher: Musagena.
  • Czech Republic: Lucie Faulerová, Smrtholka (Deathmaiden), Publisher: Nakladatelství TORST.
  • Iceland: Sigrún Pálsdóttir, Delluferðin (Runaround), Publisher: Forlagið útgáfa (JPV).
  • Latvia: Laura Vinogradova, Upe (The River), Publisher: Zvaizgne ABC.
  • Malta: Lara Calleja, Kissirtu kullimkien (You've Destroyed Everything), Publisher: Merlin Publishers.
  • Netherlands: Gerda Blees, Wij zijn licht (We are light), Publisher: Uitgeverij Podium.
  • Portugal: Frederico Pedreira, A Lição do Sonâmbulo (The Sleepwalker's Lesson), Publisher: Companhia das Ilhas.
  • Serbia: Dejan Tiago Stanković, Zamalek (Zamalek), Publisher: Laguna.
  • Slovenia: Anja Mugerli, Čebelja družina (Bee Family), Publisher: Cankarjeva založba.
  • Sweden: Maxim Grigoriev, Europa (Europe), Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag.
  • Tunisia: أمين الغزي (Amine Al Ghozzi), زندالي ليلة 14 جانفي 2011 (Zindali, the night of 14 january 2011), Publisher: زينب للنّشر و التوزيع (Editions Zayneb).


The 2021 laureate for each country was selected by a national jury of experts in the fields of literature, publishing and bookselling. The 13 winning books and authors were revealed during a video broadcast on 18 May at 2:00 PM CEST. Their names were individually announced by a representative of each national jury.


Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Graça Fonseca, the Minister of Culture of Portugal, congratulated the winning laureates.  


Commissioner Gabriel said: “The EU Prize for Literature celebrates and promotes the incredible creativity and diversity that can be found in Europe’s contemporary literature scene. The immense value of literature is more apparent now than ever before. Having lived under the shadow of Covid for more than a year, books have become “essential”. Congratulations to the laureates!” 


My congratulations to all the award winning authors, who thus become part of this honourable list of winners of the European Union Prize for Literature. May their imagination continue to make our reality better through its works and talent,” said Graça Fonseca, the Minister of Culture of Portugal. 


The EUPL is organised by a Consortium of associations comprising the European Writers' Council (EWC), the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), and the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), with the support of the European Commission. 


The European Writers’ Council warmly congratulates the nominees and winners of this year's European Union Prize for Literature! We thank you for your tirelessness to observe and tell about the world. You are not only the sources of the book value chain, but your works are the sources of democracy, cultural exchange, and a diverse European community,” said Nina George, President of the European Writers’ Council. “The EUPL 2021 is a special prize: it marks the beginning of a still unclear time "after". Let us enter these post-crisis years with optimism and accept the challenge to continue writing – and awarding – literature that is as diverse, surprising or unusual as possible.” 


Peter Kraus vom Cleff, President of FEP, commented: “I firmly hope that the 2021 EUPL laureates will be able to meet their audience presently in their country and in the future all over Europe and beyond. Whether in person or online, the label EUPL has attracted many publishers and encouraged translations. Each translation is a vivid proof of Europe’s rich, diverse, and fascinating creative publishing landscape. The famous European writer and thinker Umberto Eco said ‘Translation is the language of Europe’. I would paraphrase him in saying that ‘Translation is the language of empathy’. As the President of the Federation of European Publishers, I am proud and happy that so many previous EUPL laureates have been translated in various European languages, finding new readers and this is what I sincerely wish to the 2021 laureates.


Jean-Luc Treutenaere, co-President of EIBF, added: “The past year has been very difficult and challenging for many of us. Faced with a pandemic and the loss of access to many of our favourite and comforting cultural places, books have offered us solace, escape, and adventures. Being able to read diverse novels, from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds, is a great way to interact and get to know new characters, habits, and local cultures from the safety of our homes. The European Union Prize for Literature offers just that, and I am very pleased to offer my congratulations, on behalf of the European and International Booksellers Federation, to the 13 winning authors for this year. I am looking forward to exploring the worlds they’ve created and finding their novels on the bookshelves in bookshops across Europe.” 




* After further consideration of the shortlist suggested by the Moldovan jury, the EUPL Steering Committee could not confirm the proposed candidates as emerging authors. Therefore, there will be no Moldovan laureate in 2021.


#EUPL2021 Announcement Video

Social media material for #EUPL2021 Laureates


The winners of the 2021 European Union Prize for Literature were selected amongst national shortlists of two to five books. The list of shortlisted titles and authors for each of the participating countries was published by the EUPL on 15 April 2021


Excerpts from the 13 winning books of the EUPL 2021 will be translated and featured in an anthology to be published at a later date. The digital version of the anthology will be freely accessible on the EUPL website.



Enkel Demi (pen name Tom Kuka), Flama (Calamity), Botime Pegi, Tirana, 2021, Language: Albanian, ISBN: 978-9-9283-1059-0

The EUPL jury for Albania comments: “The novel, which uses surreal elements as a means to convey ideas, manages to point out the beauty and kindness that common people still retain. Moreover, the rich language and use of several registers, the assortment of characters and the way that the book examines, from an anthropological point of view, the Albanian citizen of today make the novel a worthy representative of Albania’s contribution to international contemporary literature.”

Discover the jury announcement in Albanian here



Արամ Պաչյան (Aram Pachyan), P/F (P/F), Էջ հրատարակչություն (Edge Publishing House), Yerevan, 2020, Language: Armenian, ISBN: 978-9-9399-2442-7

The EUPL jury for Armenia comments: “The novel P/F leads the reader into the inner world of a city dweller who is struggling to accept the way his hometown has changed since his childhood. The changes are symbolic of his personal growth and the fast pace of our life. The novel is rich with Buddhist references and stunning sketches of relationships between a father and son, a couple in love and, most importantly, the author and the city.”

Discover the jury announcement in Armenian here



Георги Бърдаров (Georgi Bardarov), Absolvo Te (Absolvo Te), Musagena, Sofia, 2020, Language: Bulgarian, ISBN: 978-6-1991-5196-9

The EUPL jury for Bulgaria comments: “The novel focuses on important historical issues in Europe that are still relevant today: social and ethnic separation, religious and political opposition and the rise of nationalism and other extreme ideologies. The development of the plot is intense, the author’s style is captivating and he holds the reader’s attention through clashes between strong characters and well-delivered humanist messages. Georgi Bardarov is a talented narrator who foregrounds the ideas of tolerance and forgiveness, making us empathise with the characters and deepening our understanding of the events of the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Discover the jury announcement in Bulgarian here


Czech Republic

Lucie Faulerová, Smrtholka (Deathmaiden), Nakladatelství Torst, Prague, 2020, Language: Czech, ISBN: 978-8-0721-5593-4

The EUPL jury for Czech Republic comments: “Lucie Faulerová’s literary work is full of subtle humour and irony, and the rhythm of her language and the extraordinary purity of her style make this novel a pleasant read. The jury appreciated the brilliantly written and non-linear narrative of the novel, which suggests a musical composition, the sensitive use of dark humour amid the heroine’s painful experiences and the courage of the young writer in presenting a demanding text with sombre and sometimes even morbid motifs.”

Discover the jury announcement in Czech here



Sigrún Pálsdóttir, Delluferðin (Runaround), Forlagið útgáfa (JPV), Reykjavík, 2019, Language: Icelandic, ISBN: 978-9-9352-9001-4

The EUPL jury for Iceland comments: “The novel is by no means a traditional coming-of-age story; rather, it mercilessly twists and turns every convention. The narrative is concise and free of verbosity. Subtle suggestions excite in the reader a desire to keep up with the story as it steams ahead, providing surprises at every turn and finally overturning any expectations of a traditional ending. The story also explores how the cultural identity of a nation is being shaped, a nation that, at the turn of the 20th century, was one of Europe’s poorest and least developed.”

Discover the jury announcement in Icelandic here



Laura Vinogradova, Upe (The River), Zvaizgne ABC, Riga, 2020, Language: Latvian, ISBN: 978-9-9340-8847-6

The EUPL jury for Latvia comments: “Vinogradova’s work is based on a proper and thorough understanding of composition and structure, and on a great ability to express, in rather spare prose, eternal emotions and longings for nature, for history, for human relationships. (…) (The River is) ‘a microworld... a present into which the long shadows of the past stretch, a psychological and melancholic story about loneliness and longing, a mosaic of lost moments coloured with hope for the future’.”

Discover the jury announcement in Latvian here



Lara Calleja, Kissirtu kullimkien (You've Destroyed Everything), Merlin Publishers, Blata l-Bajda, Malta , 2020, Language: Maltese, ISBN: 978-9-9909-1851-9

The EUPL jury for Malta comments: “Lara Calleja’s collection of short stories, You Have Destroyed Everything, is a work of ecofiction that applies ecocriticism to the Maltese sociocultural context. (…) Calleja invites the reader on a trip where the ordinary, almost mundane – as if a neighbour were narrating their day-to-day life, their anguish and frustration – is imbued with meaning and transformed into something verging on the sublime. Lara’s major themes are the fragility of nature and human relationships. Yet, despite the bitter nature of the subject matter, the reading experience remains fascinating and enthralling. This is mainly because of the author’s ability to master the potential that the narrative genre has to offer.”

Discover the jury announcement in Maltese here



Gerda Blees, Wij zijn licht (We Are Light), Uitgeverij Podium, Amsterdam, 2020, Language: Dutch, ISBN: 978-9-0575-9000-9

The EUPL jury for the Netherlands comments: “We Are Light is an original, moving and rich novel that deserves a large international readership. It is a very special debut novel, with no fewer than 25 narrators, some of them quite bizarre, such as the smell of an orange or the main character’s dead body. (…) Gerda Blees is a compelling storyteller who writes with forensic precision – and with great humour. We Are Light is gripping from the first page to the last.”

Discover the jury announcement in Dutch here



Frederico Pedreira, A Lição do Sonâmbulo (The Sleepwalker's Lesson), Companhia das Ilhas, Lajes do Pico, 2020, Language: Portuguese, ISBN: 978-9-8990-0707-9

The EUPL jury for Portgual comments: “Pedreira’s novel stands out for the quality of its writing and for the way in which the author uses fiction as a tool for autobiographical writing. (…) The author recreates his past, lingering on details and sensations in sentences that often stretch out, playing with the perception of time and without any kind of mimicry of famous works on similar subjects. It is a book with plots, streams of consciousness and interpersonal relationships that combine modernity with a classical tone, not conforming to the usual narrative formulas.”

Discover the jury announcement in Portuguese here



Dejan Tiago Stanković, Zamalek (Zamalek), Laguna, Belgrade, 2020, Language: Serbian, ISBN: 978-86-521-3625-4

The EUPL jury for Serbia comments: “Zamalek by Dejan Tiago Stanković is a book of skilful linguistic imagination. Its plot takes place in Cairo, and its characters bear the weight of different national destinies that shaped the 20th century, and which deeply concern the Serbian reader. Although at first it may resemble a travelogue or the study of a culture, by skilfully complicating and deepening the relations between the characters, this novel, quite in line with the famous Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, is an extremely convincing literary story. (…) It is a masterfully narrated novel that, having won over the Serbian audience, will surely get under the skin of readers all over Europe.”

Discover the jury announcement in Serbian here



Anja Mugerli, Čebelja družina (Bee Family), Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 2020, Language: Slovenian, ISBN: 978-9-6128-2466-2

The EUPL jury for Slovenia comments: “Bee Family, the third book by Anja Mugerli, written in timeless, gentle prose, has two centres: family, and the rituals and ancient customs characteristic of Slovenian folklore. By weaving them together and placing them in unfamiliar contexts, the author gives them an air of darkness. The collection points to the coexistence of two opposing, even antagonistic, worlds (…) ‘In a family of bees, there can only be one queen bee,’ writes Mugerli, and indeed a quiet conflict of different perspectives seems to run through the book, while the stories do not tend towards their reconciliation but are content to let them coexist.”

Discover the jury announcement in Slovenian here



Maxim Grigoriev, Europa (Europe), Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm, 2021, Language: Swedish, ISBN: 978-9-1001-8396-7

The EUPL jury for Sweden comments: “In his novel Europe, Maxim Grigoriev sheds light on contemporary migration experiences, as well as on exile as a classical narrative motif. He delineates with great psychological and philosophical depth the lives of exiled Russians in Paris, unravelling well-known depictions of exile through a finely balanced prose and an ambitious literary construction. Europe is by no means a tribute to a continent; rather, it is a candid reckoning. With his third book, Grigoriev has taken a considerable step forward as an author and has brought something fresh and singular to Swedish literature. The portrait of the novel’s main character, Nina, is striking and unforgettable.”

Discover the jury announcement in Swedish here



أمين الغزي (Amine Al Ghozzi), زندالي ليلة 14 جانفي 2011 (Zindali, the Night of 14 January 2011), زينب للنّشر و التوزيع (Editions Zayneb), Tunis, 2020, Language: Arabic, ISBN: 978-9-9383-9058-2

The EUPL jury for Tunisia comments: “The novel Zindali, the Night of 14 January 2011 revolves around the night of 14 January, following the departure of President Ben Ali after several weeks of insurrection. It is original in its narrative construction, describing with great poetry and humour 16 scenes that took place during that long night. (…) It is a multi-voiced fiction bringing together political, social and psychological dimensions and intertwining reality with imagination and dream. The novel’s originality also stems from its style, its different uses of language and the richness of its discoveries. The writer adopts a mixture of Tunisian dialect and fus’ha (standard Arabic), developing an experimental language that uses phonetic transcription of dialogue and rhythms, and breaks the monologue between two or more characters.”

Discover the jury announcement in Arabic here