Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding

The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding is one of the most prestigious literature prizes in Germany. It has been awarded annually since 1994 and comes with prize money of 20,000 euros. The prize committee includes the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels e.V. (The German Publishers and Booksellers Association) and Leipziger Messe. Cooperation partner is the Federal Agency for Civid Education.

The prize was awarded to Omri Boehm at the opening ceremony of Leipzig Book Fair on the evening of 20th March 2024 at the Gewandhaus Leipzig.

Portraitfotografie von Omri Boehm vor schwarzem Hintergrund. Er trägt einen schwarzen Anzug mit weißem, aufgeknöpften Hemd und blickt mit einem angedeuteten Lächeln zur Seite.
Omri Boehm (image source: © Marzena Skubat)

The Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding 2024 will be presented to Omri Boehm

The 2024 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding was awarded to the German-Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm for his book entitled Radical Universalism. Beyond Identity. The book was published by Propyläen in September 2022 and translated into German by Michael Adrian.

Ein schwarz-weiß Portrait von Eva Illouz. Sie steht mit verschränkten Armen an eine Wand gelehnt im Freien und lächelt in die Kamera.
Eva Illouz (image source: © James Startt

She was introduced by French-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz.

Statement from the jury:

The German-Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm will be honoured with the 2024 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his uncompromising defence of the core values of humanistic universalism and the obligation to recognise the equality of all human beings without relativising in any way. In his latest book, entitled Radical Universalism. Beyond Identity (2022), Boehm resolutely opposes the ideological hardening of the present and takes Kant's definition of enlightenment as man’s emergence from self-imposed immaturity as the basis for a critical examination of Western liberalism and its tendency to think in terms of identities that then become absolute.

According to Boehm, even in modern societies, ultimate truths are necessary in order to protect human equality and dignity. He does not shy away from promoting metaphysical rationales for universalism, finding them in the intersection of Kant's philosophy and the legacy of the biblical prophets. In an original reading of the Hebrew Bible, he discovers a figure of disobedience in Abraham, who sacrificed the ram instead of his son. By insisting on the idea of justice against God, Abraham becomes the archetype of ethical monotheism. Kant then interprets this idea in the language of modern philosophy. Omri Boehm's groundwork on humanistic universalism is of significant political relevance. His books, including A Future for Israel: Beyond the Two-State Solution (2020), simultaneously defend and challenge liberal democracies by demanding obligatory universalism.

Critical and fair: the jury

  • Dr. Maike Albath (literary critic and author)
  • Skadi Jennicke (Mayor for Culture of the City of Leipzig)
  • Michael Lemling (manager of the book shop Lehmkuhl)
  • Dr. Lothar Müller (literary critic and journalist)
  • Daniela Strigl (essayist, critic, lecturer, Vienna)

Previous award winners

  • 2023: Maria Stepanova (Russia)
  • 2022: Karl-Markus Gauss (Austria)
  • 2021: Johny Pitts (Great Britain)
  • 2020: László Földényi (Hungary)
  • 2019: Masha Gessen (USA)
  • 2018: Åsne Seierstad (Norway)
  • 2017: Mathias Énard (France)
  • 2016: Heinrich August Winkler (Germany)
  • 2015: Mircea Cărtărescu (Romania)
  • 2014: Pankaj Mishra (India)
  • 2013: Klaus-Michael Bogdal (Germany)
  • 2012: Ian Kershaw und Timothy Snyder (Great Britain and USA)
  • 2011: Martin Pollack (Austria)
  • 2010: György Dalos (Germany)
  • 2009: Karl Schlögel (Germany)
  • 2008: Geert Mak (Netherlands)
  • 2007: Gerd Koenen (Germany) und Michail Ryklin (Russia)
  • 2006: Juri Andruchowytsch (Ukraine)
  • 2005: Slavenka Drakulić (Croatia), lebt in Stockholm, Wien und Sovinjak (Croatia)
  • 2004: Dževad Karahasan (Bosnia & Herzegovina), lebt in Graz und Sarajevo
    (Recognition Award: Gábor Csordás, Hungary)
  • 2003: Hugo Claus (Belgium)
    (Recognition Award: Barbara Antkowiak, Germany)
  • 2002: Bora Ćosić (Croatia), lebt in Rovinj (Croatia) und Berlin
    (Recognition Award: Ludvik Kundera, Czech Republic)
  • 2001: Claudio Magris (Italy)
    (Recognition Award: Norbert Randow, Germany)
  • 2000: Hanna Krall (Poland)
    (Recognition Award: Peter Urban, Germany)

Detailed information on the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding, previous prize winners, the board of trustees and the panel of judges can be found at www.leipzig.de/buchpreis


Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding
c/o City of Leipzig, Dezernat Kultur
Karin Rolle-Bechler

Phone: +49 341 123-4207
Email: buchpreis@leipzig.de
Website: www.leipzig.de/buchpreis

Media contact:

For review copies and appointments with the award winner before the start of the Leipzig Book Fair:
Nicole Herrschmann
Suhrkamp Verlag
Phone: +49 30 740744-292
Email: herrschmann@suhrkamp.de