Birgit Vanderbeke

The content on this page was translated automatically.

Birgit Vanderbeke held the Grimm Poetics Professorship at the University of Kassel in 2007. In the series of well-known literat:innen, she has combined literary and linguistic reflection in the tradition of the namesakes of this guest professorship.

Birgit Vanderbeke was born on August 8, 1956 in Dehme in Brandenburg. In 1961 her family moved from the GDR to the Federal Republic. She grew up in Frankfurt am Main, where she later studied law and Romance languages and literature. She also spent a few years in Berlin. Since 1993 Birgit Vanderbeke has lived in Languedoc in the south of France.

Image: Justus Nussbaum (Wikimedia Commons; CC-BY-SA-3.0)
Birgit Vanderbeke (2011)

Her literary career began with a bang. With the story Das Muschelessen, the then still unknown writer Birgit Vanderbeke won the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in Klagenfurt in 1990. The theme of dysfunctional, sometimes grotesque family relationships remained with her. In 1992, the short story Fehlende Teile (Missing Parts) appeared, followed a year later by Gut genug (also premiered as a play in Bielefeld in 1999, directed by Tobias Derndinger). She experimented with various literary forms, including the crime novel(Ich will meinen Mord, 1995). Critics praised her linguistic virtuosity and her independent narrative tone. Birgit Vanderbeke achieved a major success in 1997 with Alberta empfängt einen Liebhaber, an ironically fractured love story. This was followed in 1999 by ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst, a novel with autobiographical elements in which Vanderbeke deals with a new form of existence in another country, southern France. Other books include the novel Abgehängt (2000), Geld oder Leben (2003), and Sweet Sixteen (2005). Her heroines are very consciously aware of their environment, independent, even unruly women, whose fate she describes with a light hand, without concealing the abysses of their existence.

GPP event series with Birgit Vanderbeke

At the beginning of May, she took over the Grimm Poetics Professorship at the University of Kassel and, over the course of three days, gave an insight into her literary working methods and her current plans. Three events took place:

Wednesday, May 9, 7-9 p.m., a lecture under the theme "To read or not to read." Thursday, May 10, 4-6 p.m., a seminar, and Friday, May 11, 7-9 p.m., a reading of her own writing.

All events took place in the Owl Hall of the Murhard Library at Brüder-Grimm-Platz.

Prizes and awards (selection):

  • 1997 Kranichstein Literature Prize 
  • 1999 Solothurn Literature Prize
  • 1999 Roswitha Prize
  • 2002 Hans Fallada Prize