Keep on Swinging: Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83 wins the German International Literature Award

Fiston Mwanza Mujila has been awarded the The German International Literature Award for the German translation of his novel, Tram 83.

Since its 2014 release in French by Éditions Métailié, Tram 83 has scooped up several prestigious nominations and wins, including The 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, a longlisting for the 2016 International Man Booker and the Prix de Belles Lettres at the 2015 edition of the Grands prix des associations littératures.

Mujila’s vibrant, jam-packed, jazz-like post-modern novel has been translated into English, Italian, Catalan, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and German so far.

The judges’ comments were as follows:

Tram 83 is the rhapsodic novel of 36-year-old Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila, who lives and works in Graz. It is a radical report on post-colonial African life in a town built over an immense store of very valuable natural resources. Fiston Mwanza Mujila chants, roars, whispers sentences about everyday life in a male society dominated by violence with a radical furor, almost in passing narrating the tale of a crook and of the unlikely salvation of a doomed poet. The translators Katharina Meyer and Lena Müller have found a stirring language for the text that pushes towards the performative.

The Congolese poet, playwright and novelist receives a considerable prize of €20 000. Tram 83’s translators Katharina Meyer and Lena Müller also receive €15 000 for the quality of their French to German translation.

Mujila beat out stiff contenders like Korean novelist Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, Syrian poet Hamed Abboud’s Death Bakes a Birthday Cake and Singaporean Amanda Lee Koe’s The Ministry of Moral Panic to take home the prize.

The ceremony will take place on 6 July.

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