The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

The German writer Carolin Emcke receives the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for her commitment to social dialogue.

dpa/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon - Carolin Emcke

Her radically personal look at things is often the first thing that strikes the reader of her books: the writer always approaches political circumstances through the presentation of her own experiences, encounters and feelings. In this way the Berlin journalist resists the construction of a collective and the negation of individuality, in which manoeuvres she sees the origin of exclusion and violence. Instead of rendering diversity invisible and suppressing differences, Emcke wants to bear witness and enlighten. “I want to be a witness for the people who suffer injustice”, she wrote in 2004 in her book Von den Kriegen – Briefe an Freunde (Echoes of Violence: Letters from a War Reporter). Since then, she has reported on victims of wars and civil wars in Iran, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Columbia, Palestine and Kenya, on the victims of natural disasters in Haiti, on victims of social upheavals in Cuba and in Germany, and on victims of terror.

“To find our way back to understanding and exchange”

It is for this work that Emcke will be awarded the 2016 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Whether in Stumme Gewalt – Nachdenken über die RAF (Mute Force. Reflections on the Red Army Faction) (2008) or Wie wir begehren (How We Desire) (2012), Emcke’s books, articles and speeches have made an important contribution to social dialogue and to peace, as the statement of the Association of the German Book Trade formulates her achievement. “Especially in her essays and reports from war zones, Carolin Emcke exposes herself to difficult conditions and describes in a very personal and vulnerable manner how violence, hate and speechlessness can change people. With analytical empathy, she appeals to the capacity of all parties to find their way back to understanding and exchange.”

Emcke was born in 1967 in Mülheim an der Ruhr and grew up in Hamburg. Her university studies in philosophy took her to London, Harvard and Frankfurt am Main. From 1998 to 2006 she worked as a journalist for Spiegel; since 2007 she has been a freelance journalist based in Berlin. Her new book Gegen den Hass (Against Hate) will appear in autumn of 2016. The Peace Prize, endowed with 25,000 euros, will be awarded to her by the Association of the German Book Trade on 23 October 2016 at the Frankfurt Paulskirche.

Awarding of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, 23 October 2016 in Frankfurt am Main