Maxim Biller  [ Germany ]


Maxim Biller Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2007.


Wenn ich einmal reich und tot bin
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 1990

Die Tempojahre
München, 1991

Land der Väter und Verräter
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 1994

Harlem Holocaust
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 1998

Die Tochter
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2000

München, 2001

München, 2001

Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2003

Der perfekte Roman
München, 2003

Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2004

Adas größter Wunsch
Berlin, 2005

Moralische Geschichten
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2005

Menschen in falschen Zusammenhängen
Lengwil, 2006

Liebe heute
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2007

Maxim Biller was born in Prague in 1960. After the violent end of "Prague Spring" his Russian Jewish family moved to Germany in 1970. Biller studied literature in Hamburg and Munich. After graduating from the German School of Journalism in Munich he wrote his first articles for "Die Zeit", "Der Spiegel" and the magazine "Tempo", where he became famous and infamous for his column "100 Zeilen Hass" (100 lines of hatred). One can get a sense of his biting critique on pop literature, scholarly work and the cushiness of post-'68 "common sense" from his collection "Die Tempojahre" (1991; t: The Tempo years). More provocative observations followed with "Land der Väter und Verräter" (1994; t: Country of fathers and traitors) and "Deutschbuch" (2001; t: German book). Here, Biller is polemical, among other things, in his argument against the ritualization of current Holocaust commemorations.

"Wenn ich einmal reich und tot bin" (1990; t: Someday when I'm rich and dead), Biller's first volume of short stories, was praised by the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" as the "return of Jewish literature in Germany". The thirteen stories are drawn from everyday Jewish life in Germany and focus on the themes of Jewish identity and German-Jewish relations. The novella "Harlem Holocaust" (1998) and, even more intense, the novel "Die Tochter" (2000; t: The daughter), a tale with numerous flashbacks to a day spent in Munich, show Biller to be a novelist following in the tracks of Joyce, Döblin and Koeppen. In "Die Tochter", the stream of consciousness of a father who after ten years thinks he recognizes his daughter in a sex film is narrated on several planes and through a leitmotif of incest. The reader is pulled into the mental vortex of the lonely anti-hero, masturbator, sexual neurotic and Lebanon veteran Mordechai Wind. The novel "Esra" (2003) caused a scandal when it was pulled from circulation shortly after its publication. The judges acknowledged the personal rights of two claimants who recognized themselves in the characters; the story of an impossible love between a German Jew and a German Turkish woman depicts the mechanisms of contemporary hysteria.

With "Bernsteintage" (2004; t: Amber days) and "Liebe heute" (2007; t: Love today) Biller switched back to short literary forms, continuing his playful, biographical style which fuses fiction and reality. In addition, he has published a children's book and two plays and has also emerged as a songwriter with the "Maxim Biller Tapes" (2004), a CD of songs and poems.

Biller writes the column "Moralische Geschichten" (Moral tales) for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" and for "Cicero", the column "Stimmen und Straßen" (Voices and streets). For his journalistic work he has been awarded the Tukan Prize by the city of Munich as well as the Prize for European Cultural Articles and the Theodor Wolff Prize from German newspapers. In 1996 he was awarded the Otto Stoessl Prize by the city of Graz. "Der Spiegel" recently published an essay by Biller which is a song of praise to the short story. The publication of "Große, grüne, wogende Blätter" appeared in the "New Yorker" under the title of "The Mahogany Elephant". Biller lives in Berlin.

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