Irene Dische [ Germany, USA ]
Irene Dische was born in New York in 1952. At the age of seventeen she embarked on a world backpacking trip, visiting among other places East Africa, where she worked for the celebrated paleontologist Louis Leakey until 1972. After her return to the United States she studied Literature and Anthropology at Harvard University and then worked as a freelance journalist, publishing in American journals such as »The New Yorker« and »The Nation«. She visited Germany for the first time in the early eighties, and here produced the documentary film »Zacharias« (1986), based on her own script about her father, a Jew from Lemberg, who – having grown up in Vienna – fled to America through France to become one of the most distinguished biochemists of his generation. Dische's Jewish-German ancestry has been a central theme within her subsequently mostly literary work up until now. In 1989 a volume of short stories, »Fromme Lügen« (Eng. »Pious Lies«, 1991), appeared in Hans Magnus Enzensberger's »Die Andere Bibliothek« series. With unflinching wit, the stories touch upon the sensitive theme of German Nazi history and unmask both politically correct and incorrect clichés. The book, enthusiastically received by readers and critics alike, has been translated into fifteen languages and appeared in its original English version two years after being published in German language. From then on, most of Dische's works have first appeared in German translation. In the novel »A Violent Chord« (1995), written in 1993, the author presented a social tableau of reunified Germany in thirty-three variations. That same year – at Hans Magnus Enzensberger's side – she made her appearance as a children's book author. With Michael Sowa as illustrator, she tells the memorable story of »Esterhazy« (1993; Eng. »Esterhazy the Rabbit Prince«, 1994), the little hare who arrives in Berlin in search of a wellgrown female hare. Her next children's book, »Zwischen zwei Scheiben Glück« (1997; Eng. »Between Two Seasons of Happiness«, 1998, movingly depicts the tale of a young Jewish boy who, following »Kristallnacht« in Berlin, is sent by his fun-loving father to stay with his seemingly stern grandfather in Hungary. The novel was awarded the German Young People's Literature Award and was also produced as an audio book. Dische's most recent work was published in 2005. »Großmama packt aus« (t: Granny's true confession) depicts the author's own family chronicle through a monologue of memories recounted by her Catholic grandmother from the Rhineland. Following her marriage to a Jew, she fled to the United States and ensured, with a spirited determination, the survival and continued bourgeois lifestyle of her family. As is typical of her writing Dische again combines exhilaration with horror and in a swift narrative tempo brings together an abundance of occurrences and motifs. The author – first recipient, among other awards, of the Jeanette Schocken Prize – lives in Rhinebeck near New York and in Berlin. Next month her new book »Loves – Lieben« is appearing, containing 25 short love stories that are divided into the three chapters »Heaven«, »Purgatory« and »Hell«.
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