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Susan Sontag
Photo: © Annie Leibovitz

Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2003 Awarded to Susan Sontag


Staff Report

FRANKFURT, 14 October 2003 - The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, has awarded the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade) to the American writer and human rights activist Susan Sontag. The New York-born writer was cited for standing up for "the dignity of free thinking" and for her role as an "intellectual ambassador" between the United States and Europe.

The association’s director Dieter Schormann remarked in his address at Frankfurt's Paulskirche on Sunday, that Sontag sees her first duty in speaking the truth. "In a world of false images and distorted truths, she defends the honor of free thought." Sontag’s opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and its response to the September 11 terrorist attacks has frequently led to sharp criticism in the United States. In her acceptance speech, Sontag seized the opportunity to criticize President George W. Bush’s administration. She drew attention to the "deliberate absence" from the ceremony of the U.S. ambassador to Germany as typical of Washington’s current ideology of distancing itself from "old Europe." Sontag, 70, whose works have been translated into more than 30 languages, has a particular affection for European literature, especially German classics and philosophy.

Awarded annually since 1950, the prize is endowed with € 15,000, an amount made up exclusively of donations from publishers and booksellers. Past recipients of the prize include Albert Schweitzer, Theodor Heuss, Ernst Bloch, Max Frisch, Astrid Lindgren, Yehudi Menuhin, Vaclav Havel, Mario Vargas Llosa and Fritz Stern, just to name a few.

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