Göran Rosenberg took home the August Prize in Stockholm this week for his novel Ett Kort Uppehåll På Vägen Från Auschwitz (“A Short Break on the Road from Auschwitz”).
The book, published by Albert Bonniers Förlag in mid-September, is based on the wartime journey of Rosenberg’s father from the Auschwitz concentration camp to Södertälje, a town south-west of Stockholm.
“The book has meant a whole lot to me, much more than the writing of it,” he told the audience as he collected his 100,000 kronor ($15,100) in prize money, wrote the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).
The prize is named after Swedish author and playwright August Strindberg and awarded by the Swedish Publishers’ Association (Svenska Förläggareföreningen), with prizes for excellence in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s and youth literature.
The Swedish author nosed out star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the non-fiction prize, even though the striker’s biography was also a favourite to win, at least among sport fans.
But while Zlatan’s story of growing up with immigrant parents in Sweden may not score him any literary awards this time around, Rosenberg’s story about his own immigrant parents proved to be the right formula to win the 24th August Prize.
“This isn’t a book about the Holocaust, it’s a book about my father, myself, and Sweden after the war. But to understand the baggage my father carried to this little town, I was forced retrace his path,” Rosenberg said at the ceremony.
Rosenberg himself was born in 1948 in Södertälje, Stockholm, to Polish parents from Lódz. Both parents survived concentration camps in the Second World War, and it was his father’s journey out of Poland via Germany that most intrigued the writer.
Rosenberg, who has referred to the book as a kind of “childhood memoir”, retraced the footsteps of his father as he was pulled out of the ghetto in Lódz to Auschwitz in 1944, then onward to a slave labour job at a truck manufacturing factory in Germany as the war ended.
Rosenberg has enjoyed an award-winning journalistic career. He has taken home at least nine major Swedish prizes for his reporting, including Sweden’s most prestigious prize for journalism, Stora Journalistpriset, in 1993.
His journalistic career included stints at Sveriges Radio (SR) and Sveriges Television (SVT) and he has been a columnist at the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
Rosenberg’s work is not limited to print, however, and he has produced a number of award-winning documentaries, even claiming the Golden Nymph prize in 1990.
But the accolades don’t end there, as Rosenberg also holds an honorary doctorate from Gothenburg University.
Now, as Rosenberg’s eighth book makes its way to Christmas wish-lists across Sweden, the author is faced with one more question.
“I was writing this in my head for 30 years,” he told the audience at the prize ceremony.
“The big problem is what to do now.”