Simona Semenič wins Cankar Prize for Three Plays for Girls

Vrhnika – Author Simona Semenič won the Cankar Prize for best original piece of literature published over the past year for Three Plays for Girls (Tri Igre za Punce) in which she focusses on women’s and gender issues.

Before accepting the EUR 10,000 prize at Sunday’s ceremony in Vrhnika, the 46-year-old multi-award winning author said her plays deal with the subject of the female body as a testing ground for abuse.

Contrary to the Christian mentality, she does not consider the body as something inferior. “Nothing physical should be bad,” she said. What’s more – “impure desires are sacred to me”.

Semenič’s writing is often described as cruel and shocking, but she considers herself a positive, upbeat writer as the body she writes about does not give up.

The five-member judging panel picked the winner unanimously. They say Semenič deals with the issue of gender and women as a “socially, politically and gender-wise sensitive author”.

“She uses different narratives to define the woman’s different positions, her historical and current social situation, her role in patriarchal and ‘post-patriarchal’ times, abuse, oppression, subjugation, but also the women’s liberation,” they judges said.

They shortlisted three nominees from than 30 books. Apart from Semenič, the other nominees were Nina Dragičevič for the collection of poems To Telo, Pokončno (This Body, Upright) and Dušan Šarotar for the novel Zvezdna Karta (Star Card).

Named after writer Ivan Cankar (1876-1918), the prize is given out by Slovenian PEN, the Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU), the University of Ljubljana and the SAZU’s Science and Research Centre in collaboration with the Vrhnika municipality.

The first Cankar Prize went to Sebastijan Pregelj in 2020 for the novel V Elvisovi Sobi (In Elvis’s Room) and last year it went to Gašper Kralj for the novel Škrbine (Stubs).