born in Mainz in 1979, is an award-winning writer and literary scholar. After studying German, English, and Theatre Studies in his hometown, which he completed with a doctorate on »Kontrafaktische Geschichtsdarstellung« (2009, tr: Counterfactual Representation of History) using examples by Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon and Günter Grass, among others, he worked for several years as a DAAD lecturer at University College London.
As an author, he has published essays and novels. For his debut novel »Die Glücksparade« (2012, tr: The Wheel of Fortune), he received the Robert Gernhardt Award in 2010 and the Mara-Cassens Award for the best German-language debut in 2012. In his novel, he tells the story of fifteen-year-old Simon, who is stranded with his parents among permanent campers in a kind of trailer park, the »Ferienanlage Aue«, after his father takes a job there as a groundskeeper. The jury of the Mara-Cassens Award praised how Widmann »depicts the small world of the relegated with calm and sensitive language and thus a milieu to which few have access.« In this he shows himself to be a »master of empathy«. »Die Glücksparade« has been placed in the tradition of Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting. It has also been compared to the heroes of J.D. Salinger and Charles Dickens.
In between, Widmann earned his money as a copywriter in a Frankfurt advertising agency, which provided him with the material for his second novel, »Messias« (2018, tr: Messiah). Set in the summer of 2012, it describes Paul Helmer’s move to London to advertise for Oman Airlines, in a language shaped by the Anglophone narrative tone and rich in precise observations. Paul’s wife Inge stays at home in a Frankfurt suburb while he waits for an Arab billionaire named Faisal. Inge falls for an esoteric guru. The daughter Judith flees from a Danish hippie commune back to the parental home. »Everything is in this many-voiced social novel: the de-individualisation and the moulding of the employee into an efficient and self-optimised being. The real theme, however, is the permanent search of all characters for redemption.« [Der Tagesspiegel]
The themes of counterculture, bon vivants and outsiders also feature prominently in Widmann’s award-winning essays. In the magazines Merkur. Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken, Lettre International, German Quarterly and Edit, for example, he has written about the digital archives of the band Grateful Dead, the cinema of Roland Klick and the question of how Google Street View changes the perception of nature.
Widmann teaches German language and literature at Bard College Berlin and is a member of the summer school faculty at Middlebury College Vermont. The author lives in Berlin.