Double win: Swiss book prize for Kim de l’Horizon follows German. “Blutbuch” not only captures the spirit of the times, but also breaks the boundaries of language.
What a triumph – and with a debut! Kim de l’Horizon received the German Book Prize in October for the novel “Blutbuch”.
Now the Swiss Book Prize is added. The jury chose “Blutbuch” as the best German-language Swiss book of 2022.
The Swiss Book Prize
The Swiss Book Prize has been awarded at BuchBasel since 2008.
Every year, the “best narrative or essay work in the German language in Switzerland” is awarded. The prize is endowed with a total of 42,000 Swiss francs. 30,000 of these go to the winner, the nominees each receive 3,000 francs.
Well-known award winners include Melinda Nadj Abonji, Lukas Bärfuss, Peter Stamm and Sibylle Berg.
This year they were nominated, together with Kim de l’Horizon with “Blutbuch”, Simon Froehling (“Dürrst”), Lioba Happel (“Pommfritz aus der Hölle”), Thomas Hürlimann (“Der Rote Diamant”) and Thomas Röthlisberger (“ Count stones”).
In 2022, for the first time, the five-member jury was made up exclusively of women, namely bookseller Tanja Bhend, independent literary critic Sieglinde Geisel, SRF literary editor Annette König, “NZZ am Sonntag” journalist Martina Läubli and the cultural scientist Yeboaa Ofosu.
The decision was announced Sunday afternoon at the awards ceremony at Theater Basel. Kim de l’Horizon can look forward to prize money of CHF 30,000.
“Blood Book” and “The Red Diamond” were considered favorites
However, the prize de l’Horizons is not a big surprise. In the serial, “Blood Book” has long been a favorite, along with Thomas Hürlimann’s novel “The Red Diamond”.
The jury must have found it difficult to choose between de l’Horizon and Hürlimann. Hürlimann’s current novel is an excellent, worldly and cleverly constructed text.
Furthermore, for Thomas Hürlimann, who will soon be 72 years old, an award with the Swiss Book Prize would have been tantamount to honoring his life’s work. An honor that the author from Zug would have earned long ago.
Radical, eloquent, complex
However, according to the regulations, the task of the jury is to choose “the best narrative or essay work in the German language in Switzerland” for one year. Therefore, the jury members had to ignore Hürlimann’s impressive work and consider the nominated books in isolation.
Against this background, Kim de l’Horizon’s “Blood Book” decision seems correct. “Blood Book” is an extremely complex book. Urgent, radical, existential, powerful in language.
Kim de l’Horizon worked on it for eleven years. Each line resonates with the struggle that had to be fought for each of these lines.
First novel close to his own life.
Kim de l’Horizon, born in 1992, grew up in Ostermundigen (BE) and studied at the Institute for Literature in Biel, among other places. “Blutbuch” is a debut, but de l’Horizon has been writing for a long time. In the Berne phase, de l’Horizon is currently the author in residence.
Kim de l’Horizon: “Book of Blood”. DuMont Buchverlag, 2022.
Kim de l’Horizon feels that neither the female nor the male gender belong. This non-binarity is also the main theme of “Blood Book”. The narrator who writes in the first person is also called “Kim.”
In a binary fixed world
In the story, Kim turns to her own grandmother. She suffers from dementia, and only this circumstance allows Kim to break the silence. In a good 300 pages, the narrator unfolds her own suffering, her own trauma.
What is it like to grow up and live as a non-binary person in a world completely obsessed with binary? The book revolves around this question and touches on many other topics: the oppression of women, class affiliations, writing, language.
“New Territory Narrative”
In the jury statement it says: With “Blood Book” Kim de l’Horizon turned the experience into literature and entered “new storytelling territory.”
Much could be added to this judgment. For example: Kim de l’Horizon’s decision is not purely contemporary, but above all literary. Kim de l’Horizon shows us the limits of the German language and breaks them.
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Radio SRF 2 Kultur, live special, November 20, 2022, 11:00 am