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Maja Haderlap wins the 2021 Christine Lavant Prize


We’re thrilled to share that Maja Haderlap — writer, poet, and translator from German and Slovenian — has won the 2021 Christine Lavant Prize for her extensive body of work! The prize honors a writer “who, like Christine Lavant, combines high aesthetic standards with a humane attitude and a socially critical view in their literary work.”

The jury wrote that Haderlap’s selection was “a tribute to one of the most important Austrian writers . . . In the centre is her novel Engel des Vergessens, 2011, (Angel of Oblivion), a story about a Slovenian-Carinthian family which presents the battle of Carinthian Slovenians against National Socialism and the humiliation that Slovenians in Austria were and are partly still exposed to.”

Tess Lewis’ translation of Angel of Oblivion, Haderlap’s autobiographical novel, was published by Archipelago in 2016. Malcolm Forbes of The National wrote that Angel of Oblivion is “a hymn to remembrance – one urging us to salvage and safeguard the shards of our past from the tide of history.”

distant transit, Haderlap’s collection of poems newly translated by Tess Lewis, is forthcoming with Archipelago in 2022. As Haderlap writes about a Slovenia transformed through linguistic assimilation and border violence, language comes to her as a confidant, but it takes many other shapes as well, even flying at her face like a flock of birds. In these poems, the material tendencies of language play out at the fraught border between Austria and Slovenia, and in Tess Lewis’ quicksilver translation, where “sentences must disrobe / begin to roam, learn to swim / not lose the memory that nests in / their bodies, a secret nucleus.”

In 2018, Haderlap was awarded the Max Frisch Prize of the City of Zurich. The jury wrote that her “poetry and prose combine poetic brilliance with explosive political power.”

Born into the Slovenian-speaking minority of Carinthia, Maja Haderlap’s writing brings alive the specter of linguistic assimilation and ethnic cleansing at the border between Austria and Slovenia. She studied German language and literature at the University of Vienna and has a PhD in Theatre Studies. Haderlap has published volumes of poetry and essays in Slovenian and German. She was awarded the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis and the Rauriser Literaturpreis for Engel des Vergessens (Angel of Oblivion).

More information about the Christine Lavant Prize can be found here, and in German here.

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