Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

About the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage

Reporters set out for unfamiliar territories and distant parts of the world as eyewitnesses to history and detectives of the unknown. They recount the drama of life and the comédie humaine, tell stories of hope and despair, creation and destruction, fanatic conviction and cold calculation, of the hardship and the beauty of life. Their passion is reality and their works enrich our understanding of the world. Seen against the background of the complex, contradictory, and conflict-laden process of globalization, the Art of Reportage and its ability to open our eyes is increasingly important.

The Art of Reportage has a long and distinguished tradition and may be counted among the most fascinating journalistic and literary forms. It is based upon personal experience, perception, and anecdotal evidence, representing a combination of the best of journalism and of creative nonfiction. Outstanding works in this genre have an effect far beyond the situation from which they arose, achieving importance as works of literature. Astonishingly, no world prize for reportage literature existed before 2003.

The idea of developing a worldwide form of recognition for literary reportage motivated the Foundation Lettre International Award to present the first global prize for this genre in 2003: the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage.

This year, the Lettre Ulysses Award will be conferred for the fourth time. Three pieces of reportage will be awarded with cash prizes amounting to 50,000, 30,000, and 20,000 US dollars, respectively. Working grants will be awarded to the other finalists. The award procedure is centered on the work of an independent, polyglot jury, whose members represent most of the largest linguistic regions of the world. Their decision will be presented at a public award ceremony in Berlin on the 30th of September, 2006, in the presence of the finalists and the jury members.

The goal of the organizers and supporters of the Lettre Ulysses Award (Lettre International, Aventis Foundation, Goethe-Institut) is to provide symbolic, moral and financial support for reporters whose courage, curiosity, and integrity drives them to create in-depth, well-researched texts, bringing unknown, forgotten, and hidden realities to light. The prize is also intended to publicly honor and highlight the extraordinary achievements of literary reportage. Furthermore, by facilitating the translation and publication of texts from often inaccessible places or languages, this project aims to focus attention on diverse topics and issues.

Through their participation in our Advisory Committee, distinguished literary writers lend their moral and intellectual backing to the Lettre Ulysses Award. Members of the committee include Günter Grass, the German writer and 1999 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, the Polish reportage author Ryszard Kapuscinski, the French ethnologist Jean Malaurie, the Indian writer Nirmal Verma, who sadly passed away at the end of 2005, and the late Danish war reporter Jan Stage.

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"The literary journalist is not a conventional journalist, not a journalist only of information, but a journalist who must speak about human beings, and transcend current affairs to speak about the depth of the human condition"Tomás Eloy Martínez (jury member 2004)