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Helena Henschen receives the European Prize for Literature

2009/08/24

Today the European Prize for Literature is made public along with a presentation of the Swedish winner. The prize was initiated by European publishers and booksellers and is financed by the Culture Programme of the European Union. The aim is to put the spotlight on Europe’s contemporary literature in the field of fiction and to encourage greater interest in non-national literary works.

Photographer: Gunnar Seijbold/RegeringskanslietThis year 12 countries participate and each country has a national jury that picks their winner. In Sweden the jury has elected The shadow of a crime, by author Helena Henschen. It’s an excellent choice, a thrilling story of a dramatic event that chocked Sweden in the 1930´s. I look very much forward to speak at Kulturhuset in Stockholm tonight, when Helena Henschen will be presented.

Henning Mankell, the bestselling Swedish author, is the Patron of the European Union Prize for Literature for this year. The award ceremony will take place in Brussels on 28th September.

Does the EU need to have its own culture policy? Personally, I am not convinced of the advantages. I believe that the EU should focus it’s efforts on challenges that are truly cross-national and that requires solutions on a European level. Still, it’s positive that there are economic means available that can promote cross-border mobility of those working in the cultural sector and to foster intercultural dialogue, for example through the translation of literature. Culture plays an important role to enhance understanding, tolerance and knowledge of other countries. Robert Schuman once said that if he would restart the building of the European project, he would start with culture.

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