Frank Witzel  [ Germany ]

Biography

Portrait Frank Witzel
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2015, 2017.

Bibliography

Bluemoon Baby

Edition Nautilus

Hamburg, 2001

Revolution und Heimarbeit

Edition Nautilus

Hamburg, 2003

Vondenloh

Textem-Verlag

Hamburg, 2008

Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969

Matthes & Seitz

Berlin, 2015

www.frankwitzel.de

Frank Witzel was born in 1955 in Wiesbaden – town which, as the author, illustrator and musician once jokingly said – »had nothing special to offer in the sixties«. This multitalented artist learned various instruments as a child, and started drawing and writing in his youth. He wrote poems, prose, essays and articles for culture and literature magazines. In 1978 he published his first volume of poetry, »Stille Tage in Cliché« (tr: »Quiet Days in Cliché«), which he also illustrated. The second volume, »Tage ohne Ende« (tr: »Days Without End«) followed in 1980. Although his early prose – several stories and novel fragments – remain unpublished, they contain several central elements of his later work: mad fantasies, scraps of memory, philosophical digressions and a lot of surrealist figures, all trying to get ahead in an opaque world.

In 2001 Witzel had his breakthrough with the novel »Bluemoon Baby«. In a satirical thriller, the author places high school teacher Hugo Rhäs at the center of a worldwide conspiracy, telling the bizarre story with many a philosophical and literary cross-reference. Grotesque figures and crude conspiracy theories also feature in the 2003 sequel, »Revolution und Heimarbeit« (tr: »Revolution and Work at Home«) – a »maelstrom of narrative strands, reflective levels and philosophical discourses, all intertwined« (taz). Together with Thomas Meinecke and Klaus Walter, Witzel wrote the two essay collections »Plattenspieler« (2005: tr: »Record Player«) and »Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland« (2010; »The Federal Republic of Germany«), in which topics such as music and haircuts are discussed on a level with contemporary politics. Witzel’s novel »Vondenloh« (2008) tells of the absurd events surrounding the eponymous heroine, the writer Bettine Vondenloh, whose works are never longer than 120 pages. In 2015 Witzel published the fulminant, 800-page novel »Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969« (tr: »The Invention of the Baader-Meinhof Gang by a Manic-Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969«), which attracted the most interest of all his works. It focuses on a 13-year-old boy living in central Germany in the 1960s who tries to find out for himself what the contemporary political events are all about. In 98 chapters which jump quickly back and forth between narrative strains, decades, and subjects such as terrorism and pop music, Witzel created a »novel with lasting effects« (Süddeutsche Zeitung). This comprehensive prose project received the Robert-Gernhardt-Preis in 2012. The novel is to be broadcast as a radio play in 2016 and to become a theater production. Witzel composed and performed the music himself for the radio play for broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk. Frank Witzel lives and works in Offenbach.

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