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German novel on European refugees is Foreign Novel of the Year | Updated: 2018-04-13 21:25
The front page of Encounter. [Photo provided to]

The German novel Encounter (German: Widerfahrnis) penned by 70-year-old writer Bodo Kirchhoff was announced as the Foreign Novel of the Year at the 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year 2017 award ceremony on Friday.

Co-sponsored by China Publishing Group Corp, People's Literature Publishing House, Chinese association of Foreign Literature and Taofen Foundation China, it is the longest-running award in China to discover the best foreign novels to be published in Chinese.

In the award's 16th year, the Foreign Novel of the Year category honors the German novel Encounter, which recounts the story of a down-on-their-luck German couple helping a little refugee girl during their trip to Sicily, Italy.

"We gave Encounter the biggest prize of the award not only because of its unflinching portrayal of the reality of the refugee crisis in Europe, but also for its ruminations on the difficulties of human communications," says Nie Zhenning, chairman of Taofen Foundation China and director of the general judging panel of the award. It is a story that readers across the world can relate to, he adds.

Nie likened the general vibe of Encounter to American writer Jack Kerouac's 1957 magnum opus On the Road.

Encounter writer Kirchhoff, who couldn't attend the ceremony to receive the award, says he is thrilled to have had his book published in China in a video he shot for the ceremony.

"I believe that readers in China will know about the current state of mind of Europeans once they read the book," says Kirchhoff in the video, sitting in front of a liquor closet.

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