Zoran Drvenkar [ Germany, Croatia ]
Zoran Drvenkar is one of the most distinguished German speaking authors of literature for children and young people. He was born in Krizevci, Croatia, in 1967 and moved with his parents in 1970 to Berlin; today he lives in a small city in Brandenburg. Since 1989 he has worked as a freelance writer and has received many prizes and grants for his novels, poems, theatre pieces and short stories, including in 1999, the 'Science Fiction Prize' of the 'Literature Workshop Berlin' for his story 'Die alte Stadt' and in 2000, the 'Munich Youth Dramatist Prize'. In 1998 Zoran Drvenkar impressed critics with his debut novel 'Niemand so stark wie wir', which was awarded the 'Oldenburg Children’s and Young People’s Book Prize 1999'. In 2000, 'Im Regen stehen' followed. In the streets of West Berlin in the Seventies, Zoran and his friends discover, in their little neighbourhood their passion for football, television and the fights between the gangs, quarrels with their parents and first love.
Also, in 'Touch the flame'(2001), the author presents himself as a genuine narrator. Similar to a road movie, this young people’s novel is about a difficult father-son relationship. Drvenkar describes the exciting days in the life of 15-year-old Lukas, between Berlin and Hamburg filled with encounters, talking, adventures, disappointments and hopes. In a tour de force, the young protagonist meets his long lost father Ritchie, his criminal uncle, gets to know his half brother and meets his fascinating cousin. In his current young people’s novel 'Cengiz & Locke'(2002), Drvenkar shows himself as the 'young wild one' of German speaking youth literature. With great linguistic authenticity and a terrific narrative speed, the author captures the life feeling of his young heroes. It is about the big city, rival gangs and friendship between boys which rank between comradeship, loyalty, fear of too much vulnerability, mutual feelings of responsibility and casual facades. Cengiz, the 16-year-old Turk who looks like a Mongol and Locke, a 14-year-old German who is actually called Matthias end up, on one weekend, in a spiral of violence from which there seems no escape. “Cengiz & Locke” (2002) was singled out for praise with the Luchs des Jahres 2000.
In 2002, Drvenkar published 'Der einzige Vogel, der die Kälte nicht fürchtet' (Engl: The one bird who wasn’t afraid of the cold). Here Drvenkar tells the story, dry and full of pithy, of a crisp, cold winter. After an eternity of bitter coldness has ruled on earth, young boy Ricki makes his way to having a serious word with winter and here meets a comical bird who looks suspiciously like a penguin and professes to being the only bird who isn’t afraid of the cold. And so, an original, eccentric fairytale develops full of deeper meaning with which Drvenker tells his young readers more than simply a poetic story. His cheeky penguin is actually a tragic figure: he can’t fly but wishes nothing more than to be a real bird. Drvenkars success as a writer for a young audience continues with other books, amongst them the novel 'Sag mir, was du siehst' (2002, Engl: Tell me what you see) and the children's book 'Du schon wieder' (2003 Engl: You again). In 2005, Drvenkar received the 'German Young People’s Literature Prize' for his book 'Die Kurzhosengang' (2004), published under the nom de plume Victor Caspak & Yves Lanois. The book is an original and humorous children’s novel about a teenaged gang. On TV Rudolph, Snickers, Island and Zement report about their unbelievable adventures, which they heriocally master together, and for which they thank their name, “Die Kurzhosengang” (Engl: The Short-Trouser-Gang). In the sequel, “Die Rückkehr der Kurzhosengang” (2006, Engl: The return of the Short-Trouser-Gang), which was published under Drvenkar’s name, the turbulent adventures of the gang continue. Drvenkar once more proves his versatility as an author with his poetry collection “Was geht wenn du bleibst” (2005, Engl: What disappears when you stay). The subject of his poetry is the diversity of human feelings when growing up. The collection was nominated for the 2006 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis by the young people’s jury. For his female public Drvenkar wrote the book “Paula und die Leichtigkeit des Seins” (2007, Engl: Paula and the ease of being) , which tells of the life of an eight year-old who suffers from being fat. And the adventures that Zarah and her four friends have in the woods on the hunt for the robber-leader Raddek are the subject of his most recently pulished story, “Zarah – du hast doch keine Angst, oder?” (2007, Engl: Zarah – you’re not afraid, are you?”)
Drvenkar is also successful as an author of film and theatre. With the play “Traumpaar” (2006, Engl: Dream Couple) he addresses himself to a theatrical production about the themes of family and friendship. Ricki should move with his sister to his father’s in a new city after the break-up of his parents, and split from all his friends in Berlin. From the collaboration with Gregor Tessnow the film “Knallhart” (Engl: Two-fisted) was adapted from the novel of the same name, directed in 2006 by Detlev Buck. In the same year it received the Deutscher Filmpreis in Silber for the best feature film.
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