* All photos by Uwe Kletzing
Last year, I received one hundred mystery novels for free—all new books, all just published, all by new authors from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. They arrived by mail throughout the year (my postman delivered them several times a week with a deadpan face, and I’m sure he was hoping I’d invite him in for coffee!). Afterwards the books sat on a special shelf, waiting for me to make good on my promise to read them within the year.
You will have guessed by now that I’d been elected to a panel of judges, tasked with finding the best debut mystery novel of 2010, originally published in German. That novel will be awarded the Friedrich-Glauser-Preis, which comes with a €1,500 cash prize.
But “Best First Novel” is only one of the categories. Although the most eagerly anticipated Glauser award is the one in the “Best Novel” category (€5,000), the winner of the “Best Short Mystery” also gets a lot of attention. Juvenile mysteries have their own award, which is presented at the same time as the Glauser: the Hansjörg-Martin-Preis (€2,500), whose judges include several young readers in addition to the adults.
The sponsor of all these annual awards is Das Syndikat, a mystery authors' association with more than 600 active members from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The award is very similar to the “Edgar” (the Edgar Allan Poe Award presented by the Mystery Writers of America), even down to the judging process. Each category has five judges, elected from the Syndikat membership, who read all the works submitted to their category by the authors or the publishers. The judges then compile their personal top ten list and meet in late January of the following year to come up with a short list of five entries and select the winner.
|Celebrating the Glauser Awards|
(with the little red suitcase of cash)
The “Ehrenglauser” is an unendowed prize (but comes with a small bronze statuette) for individuals who have made a significant overall contribution to the German-language crime and mystery writing scene. Recipients may be authors as well as journalists, publishers and scholars, and any Syndikat member can nominate a person for this award by submitting his or her name to the relevant panel of judges.
The Syndikat, founded in 1986, began awarding prizes in 1987, at first only for Best Novel and the "Ehrenglauser" categories. The other categories came later, Best Juvenile Mystery in 2000 and Best Short Mystery and Best First Novel in 2002.
|Almuth presenting the "Ehrenglauser"|
to German crime author Sabine Deitmer
Hansjörg Martin (1920-1999) launched the post-World War II era in German crime writing when he wrote his first adult mystery in 1965. But prior to that, he’d written a lot of mysteries for young readers, and continued to do so throughout his writing career.
The 65th Edgar banquet was yesterday, but the nominees for the Glausers and the Martin have to wait another week. This year’s awards ceremony (the 25th), takes place on May 7 in the city of Mönchengladbach, near Cologne, Germany. And we’re all looking forward to the evening gala as well as the entire festival, which starts on May 4. It will be nearly a week of fun and getting together with friends, of celebrating not only the best stories but the entire experience of reading and writing crime and mystery literature.
For an overview of the crime and mystery scene in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, check out the upcoming May/June issue of World Literature Today.
More information about Das Syndikat and the Criminale can be found here (in German): Das Syndikat