The winner of the German Non-Fiction Prize 2021 is Jürgen Kaube for his book “Hegels Welt” (Rowohlt Berlin).
Statement from the jury:
“In his biography of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jürgen Kaube thoroughly dispenses with the genre of the heroic narrative. Both elegantly and with irony, he portrays the philosopher as a man who recognised and pondered the contradictions of the period of upheaval around 1800 even as he repeatedly failed to recognize their revolutionary potential – in terms of women’s demands for freedom, for example. For Kaube, intellectual history is cultural history, and Hegel’s strength was to expose himself wholeheartedly to all fields of knowledge and to doubt his own insights in the process. It is this engagement with a changing world that makes Hegel so inspiring for the present, in which unbiased thinking must stand up to false certainties, hostility to science and the exclusion of more vulnerable groups.”
The members of the jury for the German Non-Fiction Prize are: Dr Klaus Kowalke (“Lessing & Kompanie” bookstore), Tania Martini (die tageszeitung), Dr Jeanne Rubner (Bayerischer Rundfunk), Denis Scheck (ARD), Hilal Sezgin (independent author), Prof Dr Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin – Berlin Institute for Advanced Study) and Dr Kia Vahland (Süddeutsche Zeitung).
“We have been planning the German Non-Fiction Prize for a long time, and now at last it has come at exactly the right time. Our society is facing important questions and decisions – and not just those elicited by the coronavirus pandemic. With the German Non-Fiction Prize, we want to inspire social debate. Thorough research, in-depth examinations, different perspectives – this is what non-fiction books offer and why they deserve a large platform, now more than ever”, said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, Chairwoman of Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association), at the awards ceremony.
The following books were also nominated for the award: Heike Behrend, Menschwerdung eines Affen (Matthes & Seitz Berlin), Asal Dardan, Betrachtungen einer Barbarin (Hoffmann und Campe), Andreas Kossert, Flucht – Eine Menschheitsgeschichte (Siedler), Daniel Leese, Maos langer Schatten (C.H.Beck), Michael Maar, Die Schlange im Wolfspelz (Rowohlt), Christoph Möllers, Freiheitsgrade (Suhrkamp) and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit (Droemer Knaur).
Jürgen Kaube receives 25,000 euros; the five finalists 2,500 euros each. The winner was determined in several stages. After the submission process began, the seven members of the jury reviewed 240 titles published between May 2020 and April 2021. They then selected eight of these non-fiction titles for the list of nominations. The awards ceremony was broadcast as a livestream from the Humboldt Forum, a venue for exchange and debate in Berlin.