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Hans Christoph Buch  [ Germany ]


Portrait Buch
Copyright Buch / C. Joachim Unseld

Guest 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017.


Die Hochzeit von Port-au-Prince


Frankfurt a. M., 1984

Kain und Abel in Afrika

Volk & Welt

Berlin, 2001

Tod in Habana

Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Frankfurt a. M., 2007

Reise um die Welt in acht Nächten

Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Frankfurt a. M., 2009

Apokalypse Afrika oder Schiffbruch mit Zuschauern


Frankfurt a. M., 2011

Baron Samstag oder das Leben nach dem Tod

Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Frankfurt a. M., 2013

Boat People

Literatur als Geisterschiff

Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Frankfurt a. M., 2014

Elf Arten, das Eis zu brechen

Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Frankfurt a. M., 2016

Born in Wetzlar, in 1944, Hans Christoph Buch grew up in Wiesbaden, Marseilles and Copenhagen. After giving a reading in front of Group 47 when he was just 19, he received a stipend to attend the Literary Colloquium in Berlin. He majored in Slavic studies and German language and literature at the Freie Universität and TU in Berlin, and completed his doctorate under Walter Höllerer in 1972. He was also a reader for Rowohlt Verlag and an editor of »Literaturmagazin«, which he also co-founded. Buch taught at the Universities of Bremen and Essen in the seventies, and was a guest professor in California, New York and Texas. He has also given lectures in West Africa and South America.

Buch likes to conflate literature and politics. Early short story collections and literary essays were followed by »Die Hochzeit von Port-au-Prince« (1984; Eng. »The Wedding at Port-au-Prince«, 1986), the first volume of his »Haiti Trilogy«. Detailed descriptions and references to literary and cultural history are interwoven with insights into the life of Buch’s grandfather, who emigrated to Haiti and married a local woman. In the 1990s Buch worked mainly in Africa as a war correspondent; his travelogues and reportages on hotspots and war zones reveal Buch to be a sharp and unrelenting observer who highlights ambivalences and grievances rather than participating in the »social romantic glorification of the Third World«, as he put it in »Kain und Abel in Afrika« (2001; tr. Cain and Abel in Africa). In »Apokalypse Afrika oder Schiffbruch mit Zuschauern« (2011, tr. Apocalypse Africa or a shipwreck with onlookers), the author once again casts a poetic eye at post-colonial Africa. »Tod in Habana« (2007; tr. Death in Havana) is an allusion to Thomas Mann’s »Death in Venice«; it is an analogy for Havana’s physical and moral decline and Cuba’s disastrous political situation. »Das rollende R der Revolution« (2008; tr. The rolling R of revolution) affords an at once subjective and sophisticated insight into the social and political structures of Latin American countries. As a reaction to the euro debt crisis, Buch, Peter Schneider, André Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote »Mehr Europa wagen« (tr. Risk more Europe), a passionate manifesto advocating the political ideals of a European utopia. »Elf Arten, das Eis zu brechen« (2016; tr. Eleven ways to break the ice), is an in-depth exploration of Buch’s family that delineates his attempt to break their silence with the help of literature.

Buch is also an editor, translator and moderator of literary and political discussions as well as a commentator on current affairs, and is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He received the Preis der Frankfurter Anthologie in 2004, the Schubart-Literaturpreis in 2011 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern in 2014. He lives in Berlin and near Gorleben in the rural district of Lüchow-Dannenberg.


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