On the 4th of June, 2020, Das Weinen der Vögel, the German translation of Chigozie Obioma’s second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, was announced as the winner of the prestigious Internationaler Literaturpreis Award (International Literature Award). This year, the awarding body honoured the six books making the shortlist, with Obioma’s novel chosen for the grand prize.
Translated into German by Nicolai von Schweder-Schreiner, and published by Piper Publishing (2019), the jury of the awarding body, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, praised Obioma’s novel as a work, “of rare ambition and breadth that questions the freedom of the human will with relentless precision”.
Firmly anchored in Igbo cosmology, An Orchestra of Minorities tells the story of a poultry farmer named Chinonso, who comes to ruin after selling his farm, in order to obtain an academic degree at Northern Cyprus. Chinonso believes that without material advancement he will never be able to marry his beloved. The epic odyssey of Chinonso’s fate and humiliation is told by a 700-year-old Chi, a spirit double of the protagonist.
An Orchestra of Minorities, as with Obioma’s debut novel, The Fishermen (2015), was shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Booker Prize, making him one of only two writers in history to be a Booker finalist for all of their published works of art.