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German novel bags top Chinese award for foreign books

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-20 07:25
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Bodo Kirchhoff, author of Widerfahrnis. [Photo provided to China Daily]

It is a spur-of-the-moment trip. A man receives an uninvited visit to his reclusive cabin from an attractive woman, who, much like himself, has also lost her career and loved ones. Within hours, they decide to drive together, and the destination is all the way south. So begins the story of the German novel Widerfahrnis (Encounter).

As the name suggests, the book published in 2016, is about encounters. On the trip, the couple meets refugees and questions around their own European identity.

Penned by 70-year-old writer Bodo Kirchhoff, Widerfahrnis was announced as the top winner at the 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year 2017 award ceremony in Beijing on April 13.

Co-sponsored by the China Publishing Group Corp, People's Literature Publishing House, the Chinese Association of Foreign Literature and the Taofen Foundation China, the award is the longest-running such honor in China for foreign books published in Chinese.

Commenting on Widerfahrnis, Nie Zhenning, chairman of the Taofen Foundation China and director of the judging panel for the award, says it is a story that readers across the world can relate to.

"We gave it the biggest prize not only because of its unflinching portrayal of reality of the refugee crisis in Europe, but also its ruminations on the difficulties of human communication," says Nie.

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