Darmstadt / Tokyo, May 7, 2014 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors, and the Goethe-Institut in Tokyo, Japan, today announced the winners of the first Merck Kakehashi literature prize. Arno Schmidt and translator Jun Wada will each be awarded the prize in Tokyo on October 17, 2014 for Schmidt’s story “Seelandschaft mit Pocahontas” (Seascape with Pocahontas). With the new literature prize, the Goethe-Institut and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, want to recognize German authors whose literary work is to be made accessible to a Japanese readership. The prize awards €10,000 to the author and €10,000 to the translator.
In the tradition of corporate responsibility, the Germany based company has promoted literature for generations. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, aims to foster cross-border dialogue between the business world and culture with targeted support of literature projects in different countries. “We are pleased that by awarding the first Merck Kakehashi literature prize, we have made a piece of contemporary German literature accessible to a wider readership in Japan and helped build the cultural bridge between the two countries,” said Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The jurors of the Merck Kakehashi literature prize unanimously chose Schmidt’s experimental story “Seelandschaft mit Pocahontas” (Seascape with Pocahontas) from 1953 and translator Wada. The chairman of the jury, Professor Yuji Nawata from Chuo University in Tokyo, explained the jury’s decision by noting the ability of Schmidt’s experimental literature to continually evolve and its topicality and Wada’s superbly annotated test translation. He said, “Jun Wada succeeded in showing Schmidt’s topicality and the importance of his works. The prize will promote the internationally received author, finally making him accessible to the Japanese readership.” The Arno Schmidt Stiftung, which renders outstanding service to the legacy of the famous author, will accept the prize money on behalf of the author. Schmidt (1914 – 1979) is regarded as one of the most important authors of German post-war literature.
The five-member jury of the Merck Kakehashi literature prize consists of Japanese Germanists as well as representatives of the Goethe-Institut and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. It will award the prize every two years. The Japanese word “kakehashi” means frontier crossing or bridge building.
The Japanese literature prize is one of four literature prizes that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, currently promotes worldwide. In addition to the Merck Kakehashi literature prize, the company has been granting in Darmstadt the well-known German Johann Heinrich Merck Award together with the German Academy for Language and Poetry since 1964. The company has been awarding the “Premio Letterario” in Italy, which recognizes authors for building bridges between literature and science, since 2003. Furthermore, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, recently granted the Merck Tagore Award in India for the second time to promote German-Indian cultural exchange.