Photo : Francesca Mantovani



The 42nd European Essay Prize is granted to the writer and essayist Alessandro Baricco for his book THE GAME, Gallimard, 2019


The award ceremony for the European Essay Prize scheduled for 31 March 2020 is postponed due to the directives concerning the prevention of the coronavirus.

After studying philosophy and musicology, Alessandro Baricco became a writer, journalist, television presenter, theatre writer, scriptwriter, film director and literary critic. He is the author of highly acclaimed novels, theatre plays and numerous essays on literature, music, philosophy and contemporary society.

In his latest essay, Alessandro Baricco seeks to understand the profound digital transformation we are experiencing today, observing that it is not only the result of a technological revolution and the use of new tools, but also the result of a “mental insurrection”. In an attempt to understand this profound mutation, he maps out the founding events that have forged our contemporary attitudes and lifestyles inherent to the digital system. With his singular style, combining philosophical insight and humour, he explores the history of this new civilisation of gaming that derives from video games.

« If the digital revolution frightens you, reverse the sequence and ask yourself what we wanted to escape from when we began such a revolution. Look for the intelligence that generated the digital revolution: that’s much more important than studying the intelligence that it generated: it is its original matrix. »

Alessandro Baricco

French Edition, Gallimard, 2019
First edition in Italian, Einaudi, 2018


After the war, the patron Charles Veillon created three international literary prizes that were awarded to novels in the three main languages spoken in Switzerland. He believed in culture’s ability to further the reconciliation of Europe. In 1975, the Charles Veillon Foundation turned these prizes into the European Essay Prize to promote this literary genre which, although fundamental to the history of ideas in Europe, is rarely given a high profile. It is the first literary prize devoted exclusively to the essay genre.

The European Essay Prize is intended to draw attention to authors whose work bear witness to and offer a fertile critique of current societies, their practices and ideologies.

These works deal with themes that are part of European culture in the broadest sense. They adopt an accessible narrative form and deal with contemporary issues, allowing the reader to position themselves and develop their own thinking and, perhaps, to take action.