Who is the most influential writer

Literature prizes as a springboard for authors

The Cervantes Prize is the most important literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world. There it is regarded as equally important as the Nobel Prize for Literature internationally. It is named after Miguel Cervantes, the world-famous author and inventor of "Don Quixote". The prestigious prize is awarded on the day of Cervantes' death, April 23rd. According to an unspoken rule, it is given alternately to a Spanish and a Latin American author. The award does not refer to a single publication, but to the life's work of the respective author. The Cervantes Prize is endowed with 125,000 euros.

World class: Nobel Prize in Literature

The announcement of the Nobel Prize for Literature, by far the most important literary award in the world, is eagerly awaited every year: In 2015 it was awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich. The award ceremony by the Swedish king takes place every year on December 10th, the anniversary of the death of the founder Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), in Stockholm. With prize money of eight million Swedish kronor (approx. 863.00 euros), the Nobel Prize for Literature is the most highly endowed literary prize in the world.

The Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature

For the award-winning writers, the Nobel Prize for Literature is like an accolade. The book titles of the award winners suddenly become known worldwide and usually shoot up to the top of the bestseller lists within a few days. The German writer Herta Müller received an award in 2009 and was therefore only known to a wider reading public. The books by the 2014 Nobel Prize laureate in literature, Patrick Modiano (photo), have since been found in all bookstores around the world - not just in his home country France.

Spain: Premio Planeta

The Planeta Prize (Premio Planeta) is the second highest endowed literary prize in the world: With 601,000 euros, the annual prize winner can go home and devote himself to his next books. The second-placed novel will also receive 150,250 euros in prize money. The Premio Planeta was donated by the Spanish media group Grupo Planeta, which is awarded to the best unpublished novel in Spanish.

The authors must submit their manuscripts under a pseudonym. This ensures that the jury members only assessed the literary quality of the work and not a well-known author's name. The downside, however, is that the Premio Planeta is often awarded to completely unknown authors - one reason why this highly endowed literary prize is not so well known internationally. The award ceremony takes place every year in Barcelona. It has been awarded to a writer every year since 1952. In 1993 the Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa received it for his later very successful novel "Death in the Andes". He is one of the leading Latin American writers, and in 2010 he was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nobel Prize in Literature Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa on his arrival at the airport in Caracas

USA: National Book Award

In the USA, the National Book Award (NBA) is considered the most important literary prize in the USA - after the Pulitzer Prize. However, it is "only" endowed with $ 10,000, donated by the National Book Foundation, which was set up specifically for this purpose. It has been awarded annually by an independent jury since 1950 in four categories: novel, non-fiction, poetry and children's books. In addition, two prizes will be awarded for a literary life's work; the winner must be an American citizen.

The NBA only honors writers and poets who write in English and whose books are published in the USA, the jury is strict. The list of winners reads like a "Who Is Who" of American literary history: William Faulkner, John Updike, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth.

Great Britain: Booker Prize

The prestigious Booker Prize has been awarded in Great Britain every year since 1969. It is the most important British literary award; the award is given to the best English-language novel published in the United Kingdom. Until 2013, this award was only open to authors from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Commonwealth. It is now a prize for the entire English-speaking world. In 2015 it was received for the first time by a Jamaican, Marlon James for his Bob Marley novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings". The winner will receive £ 50,000, donated by the Booker Prize Foundation, which is also responsible for the award.

Man Booker Prize 2015 winner: Jamaican writer Marlon James

In 2005 the Man Booker International Prize was newly created in Great Britain, endowed with 60,000 pounds. However, it was only awarded every two years. The main sponsor is the internationally operating financial investor Man Group plc in London. The jury awarded this prize to an author of any nationality for his entire English-language work. Since 2016, the international prize has been awarded annually in parallel to the Booker Prize: for a foreign-language novel and its newly published English translation. The prize pool of 50,000 pounds is shared between the author and translator.

The award of both prizes will be broadcast live on British television and will give the award-winning authors a high level of publicity and corresponding sales figures.

France: Prix Goncourt

The well-known Prix Goncourt, named after the writer brothers Edmond and Jules Goncourt, is awarded every November. It honors the best literary work that has appeared on the book market in French in the respective year. As a first-rate social event, it is considered a high honor in France, even if the prize is only endowed with a symbolic 10 euros. The Prix Goncourt is very popular with authors and writers because its award usually leads to increased sales success not only in France. In 2010 he helped Michel Houellebecq to the top of the bestseller lists and made him world famous as an author. In 2015 it went to the French writer Mathias Énard.

Germany: Georg Büchner Prize, German Book Prize, International Literature Prize

The Georg Büchner Prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, is awarded every autumn by the German Academy for Language and Poetry and is considered the most prestigious literary award in German-speaking countries. It has been awarded as a literary prize since 1951 and commemorates the work of the German writer and playwright Georg Büchner (1813 - 1873). The award is given to writers who write in German for their complete works, through which they "play a major role in shaping contemporary German cultural life".

Rainald Goetz received the Georg Büchner Prize in 2015

The winners include well-known writers such as Sibylle Lewitscharoff (2013), Felicitas Hoppe (2012), Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1986), Heinrich Böll (1967), Erich Kästner (1957) and Gottfried Benn (1951). In 2015 the writer Rainald Goetz received the Georg Büchner Prize.

The German Book Prize, which is awarded annually in October on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair, also enjoys a high reputation - and thanks to the high publicity factor of the Frankfurt Book Fair, it has a strong sales-promoting effect not only for the winner, but also for all six titles on the shortlist. Like the Booker Prize, it honors a single work, a novel published during the year. Responsible is the "Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels Stiftung", which appoints an annually changing jury through an academy. The German Book Prize is endowed with a total of 37,500 euros: the winner receives 25,000 euros, the other five authors on the shortlist each receive 2,500 euros.

The 2015 award winner was Frank Witzel with his 800-page surprise success "The Invention of the Red Army Fraction by a manic-depressive teenager in the summer of 1969".

As in Great Britain from 2016, there has been a prize for international literature in translation in Germany since 2009: the International Literature Prize sponsored by the "Elementarteilchen Foundation" has been based at the House of World Cultures in Berlin since 2009. It honors an outstanding title in contemporary international literature in a first German translation and honors both the work of the author and the translator.

In 2015, the prize, endowed with a total of 35,000 euros, went to the Israeli author Amos Oz and the translator Mirjam Pressler for the novel "Judas", which was translated from Hebrew.