Bay Area author Dave Eggers said he will not travel to Germany to accept a literary prize from the Günter Grass Foundation.
Eggers, co-founder of the literacy program 826 Valencia in San Francisco, said in a statement that the organizers should have postponed the award ceremony following the controversy over Grass’ recently published poem claiming that Israel is endangering world peace by threatening Iran.
“I felt it best if I did not attend in person,” Eggers said in a statement issued by his German publisher. “The issues raised in Grass’s recent poem are not issues I am prepared to speak about, and I would have been expected to comment on them repeatedly.”
Eggers was awarded the Albatross Prize, which includes a cash award worth about $56,000, for his 2009 novel “Zeitoun,” about a Syrian-American man’s experiences after Hurricane Katrina. Israeli author David Grossman is a past recipient of the prize.
Eggers had requested that the prize money be given to German organizations that work on interfaith dialogue, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Grass, a Nobel Prize–winning poet, was declared persona non grata and banned from ever entering Israel following the publication of his poem earlier this month in Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other international papers. — jta