Guadalajara, Jalisco, August 29, 2016

Norman Manea, Winner of the 2016 FIL Literary Award

“He is the author of an extensive body of work that cannot be defined by traditional literary genres,” said the judging panel in their unanimous decision to grant the award for the first time to a Romanian writer.


The wandering identity: “We returned, on the heels of the troops, to the places we were expelled from. We stopped for months in little towns here and there. Children, strangers, better to have nothing to do with anyone.” The lessons of memory: “Memory only brought back the steep slope of a stretch of yellowed street, petrified from the sun, the momentary shine of the blue a tin pre-school lunchbox, which held bland, white croissants with butter and cheese.” The absurd violence of last century and its repercussions on the present are recurrent themes in Norman Manea’s work, said the judging panel in their unanimous decision to grant the FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages to Manea, the first Romanian author to be granted this distinction.


 “Norman Manea is the author of an extensive body of work that cannot be defined by traditional literary genres [...] In the face of history’s catastrophes of and the exiles to which we have been subjected, Manea’s works asks, poignantly and ironically—how can we define ourselves in this world of changing mirrors?,” reads the judging panel’s decision. The judges also mentioned Manea’s extensive body of work, which has been translated into over thirty languages. “The main character of his work is the Wandering Jew, who is brought to life with multiple personalities and in different eras. Old Europe and the New World are intertwined in Manea’s work as a stage for his pilgrimages, with a striking, and many times dark, sense of humor.”


Born in Suceava (Bucovina, Rumania) on July 19, 1936, his life and work have been marked by his childhood experiences in a concentration camp, and his life under a communist dictatorship and in exile. Some of his most well-known works include The Hooligan’s Return (2003), Compulsory Happiness (1999), The Black Envelope (1986), On Clowns: The Dictator and the Artist (1997), The Fifth Impossibility (2012), The Trenchcoat (1990) and his collected stories in the volume Proust’s Tea (2010). His numerous distinctions include being granted a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, the New York Public Library’s Literary Medal, the International Nonino Prize for Literature, becoming an elected member of the Berlin Academy of Art in 2006, winning the Prix Médicis étranger and the Medal for Cultural Merit (granted by the president of Romania in 2007), and receiving honorary PhDs from Bucharest and Cluj universities in Rumania) and from France’s Legion of Honor (2008).


Fifty-four candidates from 23 countries were nominated for this year’s award and the following renowned authors and critics participated on this year’s judging panel: Alberto Manguel and Ottmar Ette representing Spanish; João Cezar de Castro Rocha and Jerónimo Pizarro representing Portuguese; Mercedes Monmany for Romanian; Louis Chevaillier for Italian; and Philipe Daros for French. Monmany said that Manea is the “the most fierce and relentless portrait artist of his country, Romania, during the years of Ceaușescu’s dictatorship.”  The FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages, which includes a purse of US $150,000, is a distinction given to a creative body of work in any literary genre. It will be presented on November 26 during the opening ceremony of the 29th Guadalajara International Book Fair.


Norman Manea’s official website is:




For further information contact:

Press Office and Publicity General coordinator, Mariño González at the phone number (52 33) 3810-0331, ext. 952