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Judith Hermann  [ Germany ]

Biography

ldw.hermann, judith_portrait_c_Andreas Labes_evtl. nicht honorarfrei, gefragt 26.5..jpg
© Andreas Labes

Guest 2005, 2009, 2014.

Bibliography

Sommerhaus, später
Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 2000

Nichts als Gespenster
Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 2003

Alice
Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 2009

Judith Hermann was born in 1970 in Berlin. She studied German language and literature, philosophy and musicology while she worked as a waitress and actress among other things. After attending the Berlin School of Journalism, she trained at the long-established »New Yorker Staats-Zeitung« and the German-Jewish monthly »Aufbau« in New York.In 1997 she received a scholarship from the German Academy of Arts. Within a few months, while at the Alfred-Doeblin-Haus in Wewelsfleeth, she wrote nine stories which were published the following year in the volume »Sommerhaus, später« (tr. Summer House, Later). These met withan enthusiastic reception among critics and the public alike. Inspired by the minimalism of Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov and Marie-Luise Kaschnitz, Hermann's miniatures speak of the sensitivities and inclinations of thirty- to forty-year-olds. In an atmospheric, detailed and yet laconic manner, the author portrays everyday scenes which casually evolve into a plot. As the title story of this volume of stories suggests, they are about vague relationships of love which do not find fulfilment due to a lack of commitment and determination. Romantic insufficiency is combined with memorable images and sentences, but without the subterranean tension ever dissolving into pathos. Hermann animates the introspection of the figures using simple prose which occasionally has a lyrical rhythm and is punctuated with ellipses and insinuating intermissions which has found many imitators. Her second book of stories »Nichts als Gespenster« (2003, tr. Nothing but Ghosts) varies its typical intonation against the background of international settings. In Karlovy Vary for instance an old love affair is gently laid to rest; in America a couple find their way back to each other more or less by accident; and in Venice a young woman realises while meeting her parents that in the meantime she has become an adult after all. In 2007 these short stories were successfully adapted for a multi-protagonist film by the director Martin Gypkens. In five episodes, terse as usual, »Alice« (2009) recounts different experiences the title character has with impermanence and death. At the centre of Hermann’s first novel »Aller Liebe Anfang« (2014; tr. The Beginning of all Love) we find a small family whose quiet suburban existence is successively being chipped away at through the persistent appearance of an unknown person. By condensing the atmosphere, the author manages to extract symptomatic irritations of everyday life from a very simple plot. Where at first only an individual desire for conversation seems to exist, the inquisitive behaviour of the stranger soon takes on menacing qualities which destroy illusions of security and mutual trust.Hermann has been awarded the Bremen Award for the Advancement of Literature (1999), the Hugo-Ball-Promotion Award (1999), the renowned Kleist Award (2001) as well as the Friedrich Hölderlin Award (2009). Judith Hermann lives in Berlin.

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