Last chance for UK authors to win European Book Prize before Brexit

Last chance for UK authors to win European Book Prize before Brexit

This is the last year that British authors are likely to be eligible to enter the European Book Prize (Prix du Livre Européen), with the UK's exit from the European Union looming in March 2019.

Not to be confused with the European Prize for Literature (Prix Européen de Littérature) or the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL), the €10k European Book Prize has been running for 12 years and is reserved for authors who are nationals of EU member states, meaning that after Brexit, British authors will only be eligible to enter if they have a second passport from an EU nation.

Since the prize launched in 2007, it has been won twice by UK authors -Tony Judt in 2008 for Postwar (Vintage) and Anthony Giddens in 2014 for Turbulent and Mighty Continent (Polity). The frequency that authors from the UK have won the prize is equal to Spain and surpassed only by France, Belgium and Italy whose authors have won it three times. 

The award was created by the association Esprit d'Europe with the support of French politician and former European Commission president Jacques Delors and rewards fiction and non-fiction titles expressing "volition of Europe" in order to "promote European values and to contribute to European citizens' better understanding of the European Union as a cultural entity".

Judged by European writers and journalists, it is awarded each December at a reception in the European Parliament in Brussels. 

Although admitting the prize was "not especially" well known in the UK, European Book Prize committee member Denis MacShane, former Labour MP and Minister of Europe, who has authored three books on Brexit, said the UK's impending exclusion from the award was a "shame". 

MacShane has served for a decade on the prize committee, but after Brexit he will likely be relieved of his role, he said. He has now written to UK publishers urging them to submit books for the last chance to win the prize, hoping a UK author can win it in the last year they will be eligible.

In a letter to publshers, MacShane said: "The books have to be by authors living in an EU member state so this is the last year Brits can apply. Just another little Brexit pain ... Personally I am keen to see a British writer winning one this year as we say goodbye to Europe." 

He told The Bookseller the developments were "part of the sadness and many losses around Brexit". He reflected on the wider implications of leaving the EU for the creative industries and book trade which he thinks means Britain would be "poorer, more inward looking and less connected than up to now". 

"It could alter copyright rules and probably whether paperbacks may be shipped directly into Europe from the US," he said. "Importantly a slab of EU dough comes in for translation and support for university research-related to writing which will dry up."

Britain's membership to the EU is currenlty set to lapse on 29th March at 11pm (midnight in Brussels) two years to the day since it formally filed notice to quit.

Entries to the European Book Prize can be sent by post up until July to Marie Riber, Prix du Livre Européen, 12 place de la Bourse, Paris 02 France. Further contact details can be found on the prize's website.