EBRD Awards Grigoriy Kanovich’s Book Devilspel European Literature Prize

EBRD Awards Grigoriy Kanovich’s Book Devilspel European Literature Prize

From Noir Press:


April 22, 2020

Lithuanian author wins €20,000 Literature Prize from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
The UK publishing house Noir Press is delighted Lithuanian Jewish author Grigory Kanovich has just won the €20,000 EBRD Literature Prize, a prestigious award celebrating literature in translation.

The prize, normally awarded at Bank headquarters in London, was awarded virtually this year because of the quarantine announced by the UK Government. The award was announced on Twitter on April 22.

Rosie Goldsmith, chairwoman of the panel of judges for this year’s prize, said the winning novel “is sincere, it is warm, it is generous. It has the feeling of a very great classic.”

British author and journalist Boyd Tonkin, one of the judges, commented: “It is above all a celebration of life. It has a wonderful sense of the individuality, indeed of the eccentricity of the people.”

The EBRD Literature Prize was set up in 2017 by the Bank with the British Council. Its generous cash award is split between the writer and the translator of the best novel in translation into English from any of the almost 40 countries in which the Bank operates.

Devilspel by Grigory Kanovich translated by Yisrael Elliott Cohen tells the story of the small Lithuanian town of Mishkine as it was invaded by Germany in 1941. The novel follows the fate of various Jewish and non-Jewish characters, including the local grave-digger, a farmer, the tailor and a madman.

“It manages to tell you something about the human capacity for evil without ever losing its own warm, beating heart,”–Vesna Goldsworthy

“It really is the most heartbreaking and unforgettable tale.”–Thomas de Waal

Devilspel was published in 2019 to positive reviews in the English-speaking world.

The Irish Times commented on Devilspel: “powerful, demanding and at times transcendent, the novel asks the reader to not only engage with the concept and experience of suffering, but to embrace it, and the human spirit’s capacity to overcome it.”

The Jerusalem Post called the novel “dramatic and heartbreaking.” Neville Teller went on to write the novel is “a remarkable literary work, [which] appeals to both heart and mind. For anyone who wants to understand how past generations of millions of today’s Jews spent their lives, it is required reading.”

“Devilspel is horror with a light touch,” the Jewish Chronicle noted, while Dr. Paul Socken wrote in the Jewish Telegraph: “If Shtetl Love Song is a paean to a lost world, Devilspel is, as the title suggests, a darker vision of that same world. It is as if the loss and the pain had been internalized. … Shtetl Love Song and Devilspel will no doubt constitute an important part of the literary canon of eastern European and world literature and stand as a lasting legacy that readers everywhere will reflect on for generations.”