Black British writer wins major German-language fiction award

 ‘No, we are the people too’ … Sharon Dodua Otoo receives the Bachmann award at the ceremony in Klagenfurt, Austria. Photograph: Susanne Hassler/EPA

‘No, we are the people too’ … Sharon Dodua Otoo receives the Bachmann award at the ceremony in Klagenfurt, Austria. Photograph: Susanne Hassler/EPA

Sharon Dodua Otoo takes €25,000 Ingeborg Bachmann prize with Herr Gröttrup Sits Down, about the rocket scientist who worked for the Nazis, then the USSR.

When Sharon Dodua Otoo moved from Ilford to Hanover as an au pair in 1992, her family were concerned. Would a black girl from outer London cope with provincial Germany? “They were really panicked about it. ‘Don’t stay too long,’ they said.”

Twenty-four years later Dodua Otoo not only still lives in Germany, but has just won arguably the most prestigious award in the German language, the Ingeborg Bachmann prize – for the first and only short story she has ever written in the language of her adopted homeland.

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GERMANY AND THE BLACK DIASPORA

imagePoints of Contact, 1250-1914

“Meticulously researched in previously ignored archives and obscure publications, the essays included in this volume range from black figures in medieval art and baroque drama to German translations of 18th- and 19th-century African and African American writers… to the fascinating account of the venture to start cotton plantations in Togo, undertaken by the German Colonial Committee with the help of Booker T. Washington. [They] reveal the many interactions of Africans and African Americans with the German-speaking world, thus offering fresh and suggestive interracial perspectives on German cultural history in broader contexts.” · Werner Sollors, Harvard University

“The organization of the book is exemplary. The introduction presents a very important theoretical construct for this and future investigations of the phenomenon of race in the German-speaking world…the chapters assembled in this anthology are excellent…I have no doubt this volume will quickly become a vital part of the growing body of research on Afro-German interactions.” · Leroy Hopkins, Millersville University

“This is an important collection that takes a large step forward in advancing knowledge about people of the African diaspora in Germany.” · Sara Lennox, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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