Monday, June 26, 2006

Peter Handke: Send my award to the Serbs


Peter Handke has once again shocked the German public but this time in such a way that not even the most extreme do not dare criticize him for it. He has given up the alternative Heinrich Heine award that the actors and intellectuals of Berlin wished to bestow upon him in favor of the Serbs of Kosovo, who live "surrounded by barbed wire and tanks".

www.novosti.co.yu
Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade

June 24, 2006
By D. Sekulic, June 23, 2006

Peter Handke has once again shocked the German public but this time in such a way that not even the most extreme do not dare criticize him for it. He has given up the alternative Heinrich Heine award that the actors and intellectuals of Berlin wished to bestow upon him in favor of the Serbs of Kosovo, who live "surrounded by barbed wire and tanks".

The Berlin Ensemble, headed by the also frequently controversial Klaus Peymann, the famous former head of the Vienna Burgtheater, recently organized donations with the help of numerous actors to award Handke an alternative Heinrich Heine award in the amount of 50,000 euros. The highly prestigious German language award was awarded to Peter Handke by an expert jury in Dusseldorf but the city council refused to accept its decision, stating quite literally that the award could not go to a writer who is of pro-Serb orientation!

The case provoked spirited discussion and many concluded that it represented an instance of brutal political censure of literature. Local politicians are judging one of the greatest living writers in the German language, warned eminent intellectuals, among them some, like Nobel laureate Gunther Grass who at one time advocated the bombing of Serbia.

At the same time Handke informed Peymann and his friends that he is renouncing the alternative award as well because, as he had previously stated, he did not wish his work to be the subject of meddling by local politicians. The money that they collect should be sent to the Serb enclaves in Kosovo and Metohija to people who are living under impossible conditions thanks to the supporters of "freedom" imposed upon them by NATO bombs.

Grass dismisses jury

In Dusseldorf it has now been openly admitted that the decision really was of a political nature and that the Heinrich Heine award allegedly has a clearly political character. In response to this, Grass, who is highly influential, has sent a request that in the future the city council be stripped of the right to approve or reject the decision of the expert jury.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Related article:

Disputed Author Handke Awarded German Literary Prize
DEUTSCE WELLE
25.05.2006

Großansict des Bildes mit der Bildunterscrift: Austrian writer Peter Handke is controversial because of his stance on Serbia

Controversial Austrian playwright and novelist Peter Handke was awarded the city of Düseldorf's Heine Prize for literature.

The Heine Prize, endowed for 50,000 euros ($64,000), is one of the three highest-paying literature prizes in Germany. The jury said Handke -- like Heinric Heine, the German poet after whom the prize is named -- obstinately follows the way to an "open truth." He puts forth his own poetic world view, in contrast to broader public opinion, they said. The prize will be awared on Dec. 13.

Handke wrote the groundbreaking experimental play "Offending the Audience" and the novel "The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick", but may be best know for writing the novel "Wings of Desire", whic was turned into a film by Wim Wenders.

Pro-Serbian stance
He is controversial because of his pro-Serbian stance during the Balkan wars, and his support for the Serbian regime.

Recently, French national theatre Comédie-Française removed the play "Voyage to the Sonorous Land or the Art of Asking" from its 2007 season lineup, after Handke spoke at the burial of former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in Marc.

Handke, who lives in France, said in an esay in the French newspaper Libération: "Let's stop laying the masacre on the backs of the Serbian military and paramilitary. And listen -- at last -- to the survivors of the Muslim masacres in numerous Serbian villages around Srebrenica."

'Glad' aceptance

Last year, Handke's publisher, Suhrkamp Verlag, said the author would categorically refuse any more literature prizes; in Paris, however, Handke said he would "gladly" acept the Heine Prize.

Up to now, winners of the Heine Prize have included Walter Jens, Günter Kunert, Max Frisc, Wolf Biermann, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Elfriede Jelinek und Robert Gernhardt.

No comments: