Satire on EU Bureaucracy Wins German Book Prize

A satirical look at the European Union and its bureaucracy, which opens with a pig running amok in one of Brussels’ main squares, has won the prestigious German Book Prize.

Austrian writer Robert Menasse scooped a 25,000 euro prize for his novel Die Hauptstadt (The Capital) on Monday, on the eve of the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Europe’s future hangs in the balance as Britain wrangles with Brussels about the terms of its departure from the bloc after the June 2016 Brexit vote. Despite efforts to provide a united front, the other 27 members remain deeply divided over the euro, taxes and migration.

“Contemporary times are presented literarily so well that contemporaries recognize themselves and coming generations will better understand this time,” the German Publishers and Booksellers Association said.

The Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten called Menasse’s book “provocative, timely and important: a plea to remember what lies at the centre of the ‘European peace project’, and to have the courage to take it into its next phase.”

The book, published by Suhrkampf Verlag in September, was one of six books shortlisted for the prize. Menasse, clearly moved, accepted the prize in Frankfurt.

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