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Olga Martynova Awarded 2015 Berlin Literature Prize

Martynova Appointed Heiner Müller Visiting Professor of German Literature at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 041/2015 from Feb 18, 2015

The Preußische Seehandlung Foundation awarded the 2015 Berlin Literature Prize to the writer Olga Martynova. She received the award on Wednesday night from Mayor Michael Müller at the Berlin City Hall. The president of Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, appointed Martynova the Heiner Müller Visiting Professor of Literature for the 2015 summer semester. The prize money amounts to 30,000 euros.

The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, praised Olga Martynova as a "literary mediator between Russia and Germany.” He said it is remarkable that "she elegantly produces literary texts at the highest artistic level in both her Russian mother tongue and in her second language German." He stressed that she depicts in an entirely unique and imaginative way the conflicts and various ways of addressing Stalinism, the Cold War, and the meeting of East and West as European cultural and historical areas.

The president of Freie Universität Berlin and literary scholar Prof. Dr. Peter André Alt referred to Martynova's "respectful-disrespectful" way of dealing with literary traditions. In her texts she apparently effortlessly weaves "a dense, very contemporary network of literary references" ranging from the eloquent novels of the 19th century to the language experiments of the modernists. All of these factors make her particularly well qualified to discuss her work with students within the framework of literary history and to encourage them in their own writing attempts, said Alt. The poet and translator Elke Erb, who has translated several of Martynova's texts from Russian into German, gave a speech in honor of Martynova.

Olga Martynova was born in 1962 near Krasnoyarsk and grew up in Leningrad, where she majored in Russian language and literature. She has been living in Germany since 1991. Martynova writes in Russian and German. She published her first novel, Even Parrots Outlive Us, in 2010. Two years later she won the Ingeborg Bachmann Award for her text "I will say: Hi!" She has also published several volumes of poetry Letter to the Cypress Trees (2001), In the Draft of Europe (2009), and From Tschwirik to Tschwirka (2012), and a novel Mörikes Collarbone (2013).

Since 2005 the Preußische Seehandlung Foundation and Freie Universität have been awarding the Berlin Literature Prize and appointment as a visiting professor. The prize winner teaches a course during the spring/summer semester, which involves working with university students in Berlin and Brandenburg. The previous award winners/visiting professors were Herta Müller, Durs Grünbein, Ilija Trojanow, Ulrich Peltzer, Dea Loher, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, Thomas Lehr, Rainald Goetz, Lukas Bärfuss, and Hans Joachim Schädlich. The selection committee for the 2015 Berlin Literature Prize consisted of Peter-André Alt, Sonja Anders, Jens Bisky, Kristin Schulz, and Thomas Wohlfahrt.

Further Information

  • Dr. Ute Bredemeyer, Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung, Tel.: +49 30 30308792
  • Carsten Wette, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73189