Sabrina Železný is the recipient of the 2022 Phantastikpreis der Stadt Wetzlar (Fantasy Award of the City of Wetzlar) for her novel Kondorkinder: Das Spiegelbuch und die verlorenen Geschichten published by Art Script Fantasy.
The prize has been awarded since 1984 and is worth € 4,000.
The eleven-member jury, consisting of representatives from the book trade, publishing, library, school, university and media, selected the winning novel from over 100 submitted titles. They explained their choice in the following statement:
The cultural anthropologist and old Americanist Železný takes us in two storylines to peru in the 17th and 21st centuries – and thus to the time of the Spanish conquest and into the present, in which the consequences of this former occupation are still noticeable. At the center of the novel is a magical book that is specially made to record the oral stories and curses the one who mocks it. Two women from different centuries go in search of the lost stories to fill the empty book with what threatens to disappear from the highlands: stories of angry mountain gods and mythical creatures between humans and animals, but also of violent conquest, greed for gold, discrimination, disenfranchisement, even of the attempted extermination of entire groups. Both only prove to be worthy collectors when they also find ways to pass on the stories, as songs to the sound of charango or as lyrics for modern pop songs.
Železný writes full of sympathy for the indigenous population. She succeeds in a loving approach without appropriation. The story, which is fairytale-like and magically knitted by the author, shows us in an exciting and vivid way how important collectively shared myths are for the common identity. Železný’s passion for Peru speaks from every chapter and takes us into a world that is foreign to many of us in an opulent reading experience. You follow her on stony paths up to wild plateaus, you sit with her in the rumbling bus from Lima to Cajamarca or walk on the secret paths of the south wind at the side of a magical alpaca. ‘Kondorkinder’ is an exciting book that appeals to young people and adults alike. And despite all the magic it contains, it is also a political book with the message: Learn to understand each other better, tell each other what you find important in life.
As for why Wetzlar, a town of 52,000 people in Hessen, has its own fantasy award — Wetzlar is home to the Phantastische Bibliothek-Wetzlar (Fantasy Library Wetzlar), which has the largest publicly accessible SFF collection in the world. The aim of the library is to collect everything in print which belongs to the categories of science fiction, fantasy, literature, classical fantasy, horror, utopian novels, fantastic journey and adventure novels, fairy tales, saga, myths, etc. At the moment the library is in possession of 150,000 titles.