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September 2003 - Nr. 9

 

The Editor
Antje berichtet
Elizabeth Kuehn
Dear Mom
Rachel Seilern
Over the Fence
Music Toronto
25 Years Musik
KW and Beyond
City Elections
Echo-Lines
Top Honor in Venice?
Toronto Film Festival
Mustard Festival
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehŲrt?
Financial Advice
The White Wale
Planet in Focus
After the Flood
Sahara-Touristen frei
Berlin Wall
Comics Fair
Rediscover East Germany
Literary "Wunderkind"
350 Years of Opera
"German Trilogy"
New Element

Literary "Wunderkind" Lebert publishes his second novel

  TWIG - German author Benjamin Lebert has experienced more success in the last half decade than most writers see in a lifetime. Four and a half years ago, teenagers everywhere lifted him up as their prophet after reading his biographical first book, Crazy.

The media hype that surrounded the author might well have been unwarranted - had he not been 16 when he wrote the book. All in all, it sold over one million copies worldwide and has been translated into 33 languages, inspiring German publishers to scramble for young writers. The film adaptation of the novel was a hit in Germany a year later. Critics hailed him as the voice of an as of yet undefined generation.

His second book and first novel, Der Vogel ist ein Rabe (The Bird is a Raven), promises to cause a similar literary furor when it hits bookstore shelves this week. It follows two young men on their night train journey from Munich to Berlin. Paul, 20, meets Henry, 18, in a sleeping car. Naturally, the situation dictates that they spend the entire evening talking and sharing stories. For the most part, Henry talks, while Paul, the narrator, listens.

Lebert had slipped out of the limelight since his initial success, but he has kept busy for the past four years by writing and by earning his high-school diploma - even after writing off formal education in interviews. Ironically, the young writerís texts are now being used in standardized tests and classes across Germany. He has even led a creative writing course at New York University.

This is not the same angsty kid that German readers met four years ago. Since the authorís move from bustling, edgy Berlin to rather subdued Freiburg, the column that he writes for the Berliner daily Tagesspiegel, "An Author Meets with his Generation," has changed its name to the contemplative "I See Something You Donít See" (the German equivalent of the childrenís game "I Spy").

The change signifies a young mind asserting itself and coincides with the authorís own extreme lifestyle change, say critics. Having initially interviewed his contemporaries for the column - from young soap stars to would-be global adventurers - he now confines himself to everyday curiosities. And as one critic says, "If anyone can find poetry in a prosaic world, itís him."

Though publishers had scheduled the new novel for a late August distribution, an early interview with the author in the magazine Spiegel sparked enough interest among the public to justify an earlier publication date.

An English translation of Lebertís first book was published in 2001 by Vintage Books with the title Crazy: a Novel.

Benjamin Lebert: "Der Vogel ist ein Rabe." Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne; 128 pages.

 

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