ERRI DE LUCA : EUROPEAN PRIZE FOR LITERATURE 2013
mercredi 11 juin 2014
The EUROPEAN PRIZE FOR LITERATURE 2013 is awarded to ERRI DE LUCA (Italy), born in 1950 in Naples, for the totality of his work as a novelist, a poet, a writer of essays, a dramatist, and a translator too, a work characterised by a keen awareness of the political issues of his time, as well as by a constant receptiveness to the founding texts of the Jewish tradition.
The award ceremony will take place in Strasbourg’s City Hall on Saturday 22 March, 2014 within the framework of the festival “TRANSLATE EUROPE – 9th Annual Meeting of European Literature”, organised in partnership with the City and the University of Strasbourg.
Strasbourg is a symbol-city of European democracy : it is the seat of the Council of Europe, of the European Court of Human rights, and the European Parliament. Strasbourg is also a symbol-city of European culture : the steeple of its famous Gothic cathedral, highest in Europe, dominates its historical centre, classified in 1988 by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Through the European Prize for Literature, created in 2005, the Town of Strasbourg dedicates itself to Europe, its democracy and culture. To advance the Europe of peoples is to advance the Europe of cultures.
The best way to contribute to a better mutual knowledge of the peoples of Europe is to pay homage to the great contemporary figures of their literature : the “Goethe”, “Shakespeare”, and “Victor Hugo” of today. It is by giving a face to each culture of Europe that their people will be able to learn how to appreciate and understand each other. The European Prize for Literature honours each year, for the totality of his or her work, a European writer of international stature, in order to testify to the cultural capacity of Europe. Its choices are founded on representativeness and quality standards as demanding as those of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The works distinguished so far by the European Prize of Literature highlight the richness of current European literature. They point up the urgency to make them known beyond borders and languages : 2005, ANTONIO GAMONEDA (Spain) - 2006, BO CARPELAN (Finland) - 2007, TADEUSZ RÓZEWICZ (Poland) - 2008,TANKRED DORST (Germany) - 2009, KIKI DIMOULA (Greece) - 2010, TONY HARRISON (Great Britain) - 2011, DRAGO JANCAR (Slovenia), 2012, VLADIMIR MAKANIN (Russia).
Erri De Luca was born in 1950 in Naples in a middle-class family that was ruined by the war, and relocated in the popular neighbourhood of Montedidio. Its fortunes having improved the family then moved to a new neighbourhood, to which the adolescent boy did not adjust well. Very soon he developed an awareness of political reality, and rose against injustice and the American grip over Naples. In 1968 after finishing school he became a revolutionary activist in Rome. From 1969 he joined the extreme left-wing movement Lotta Continua, of which he remained a leader until it was disbanded in 1977. From 1978 to 1980 he worked at Fiat, and took part in all forms of the workers’ struggle. Fleeing the special laws in his country he found refuge in France in 1982.
In 1983 he was just about to sign-up as a volunteer for humanitarian action in Tanzania when he discovered a Bible. On account of illness he had to come back after only a month, and to resume life as a worker. He developed a passion for mountain-climbing, began to study the Scriptures, and started to write. His father’s illness convinced him to send a manuscript to a publisher. There was time enough to put in his father’s hands the resulting book, which heralded his new life : Non ora, non qui, published in Italy in 1989. Soon afterward he completed his first novel, which he started in 1976 : Aceto, arcobaleno, and was published in 1994. During the Bosnian war (1992-1995) he was a driver for humanitarian relief operations.
Although Erri De Luca fled Naples and his family when he was 18 the city of his birth is the backdrop for all his novels, which always have a strong autobiographical content. This is the case for Tu, mio, and for his best known book Montedidio (Prix Femina étranger 2002). “In Neapolitan dialect Montedidio means ‘the Mountain of God’. From the top of Montedidio, with one leap you’re in heaven. Just as in this neighbourhood magic and sacredness blend into daily life, the novel joins together reality and the surreal, sweetness and bitterness, symbols and facts, poetry and destitution”.
Erri De Luca has published a large number of stories, novels, and essays, which have been widely translated. He has also written books of poems, plays, as well as translations of the Bible, and translations from yiddish.
His works in prose include : Non ora, non qui (1989) ; Una nuvola come tappeto (1991) ; Aceto, arcobaleno (1992) ; I colpi dei sensi (1993) ; In alto a sinistra (1994) ; Prove di risposta (1994) ; Pianoterra (1995) ; Il cronista scalzo e altri scritti (1996) ; Alzaia (1997) ; Ora prima (1997) ; Tu, moi (1998) ; Tufo (1999) ; Tre cavalli (2000) ; Montedidio (2001) ; Lettere da una città bruciata (2002) ; Nocciolo d’oliva (2002) ; Il contrario di uno (2003) ; Precipitazioni (2004) ; Chisciottimista (2005) ; Sulla traccia di Nives (2005) ; In nome della madre (2006) ; Napolide (2006) ; L’isola è una conchiglia (2008) ; Senza sapere invece (2008) ; Il giorno prima della felicità (2009) ; Il peso della farfalla (2009) ; Tu non c’eri (2010) ; Rivolte inestirpabili (2010) ; E disse (2011) ; Le sante dello scandalo (2011) ; I pesci non chiudono gli occhi (2011) ; Il turno di notte lo fanno le stelle (2012) ; A piedi, in bicicletta (2012) ; Il torto del soldato (2012) ; La doppia vita dei numeri (2013) ; Storia di Irene (2013).