Ten years is time long enough to stop, look back and ask to which extent the prize has met its original intent.
When considering, together with Martin Bútora and Martin M. Šimečka, establishment of the Dominil Tatarka Award, in 1994 we had an obvious reason for it.
At that time, in Slovakia there was a period of inflation of various awards, recognitions and honours. We based our decision on the idea that it was necessary to establish an award which would represent strict conditions: unambiguously high level of writing and civic attitudes of author.
Dominik Tatarka was a personification of destiny of an artist who had met both criteria and guaranteed transparent orientation when selecting the prize holder.
The life peripetia of Dominika Tatarka help us to see that mistakes and failures do not have to necessarilly represent stigma if they have resulted from a life long longing for freedom.
When we, altogether with Martin M.Šimečka, were elaborating the project of the Dominik Tatarka Award on March 1, 1995, we had two works „one which would be an underived literary work and another one reflecting culture and society“ in mind. But later both fields amalgamated into one in the statute.
Until 1999, the prize was sposored by the company Coopex and Igor Rintel, who was one of the prize founders. Since 2000, the Conservative Institute of M. R. Štefánik has been the prize sponsor.
During the past ten years the Award statute has not changed. The Jury consists of eight members, out of which seven are permanent and one is always the last holder of the prize. Two rounds selection process has not changed either as well as the Jury members: Dana Kršáková, Daniel Fischer, Vladimír Petrík, Martin Porubjak, Martin M. Šimečka, Ján Králik as a representative of the Conservative Institute, Peter Zajac and the last prize holder.
Also the ceremony on the prize day followed by laudation and an essay based on the message of Dominik Tatarka presented by former prize holder remain the same.
But distinction of an prize is always based on its holders. Ten years of the Dominik Tatarka Award are connected with these names: Milan Hamada (Sizyfos´Fate) , Ivan Kadlečík (Brain Teasers), Pavol Vilikovský (Cruel Engine-Driver), Ivan Štrpka (Puppets which Lost Their Heads), Pavol Hrúz (Navel of the World), Ľubomír Lipták (A Century Longer than Hundred Years), Dušan Dušek (Walking to Heaven), Gabriela Smolíková, Peter Smolík and František Mikloško (Crimes of Communism in Slovakia 1948 – 1989), Ján Johanides (Bullet-Proof Woman), Katalin Vadkerty (Hungarian Matter in Czechoslovakia 1945 – 1948) and Rudolf Fila (On the Road).
This impressive list is complemented with names of the painters who donated their painting to respective prize holders: Daniel Fischer, Milan Bočkay, Dezider Tóth, Otis Laubert, Igor Minárik, and Klára Bočkayová, Ľubomír Longauer, Milan Paštéka and Rudolf Sikora. On the tenth anniversary of the Dominik Tatarka Award also composer Ilja Zeljenka joined this society. Ten years is a period long enough for any of us to say whether the Dominik Tatarka Award fulfills its mission.
Author is the Chairman of the Jury of the Dominik Tatarka Award and the President of the Conservative Institute of M. R. Štefánik.