23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Andrew Sean Greer
© Hartwig Klappert

Andrew Sean Greer

Andrew Sean Greer was born in Washington, D.C. in 1970. After receiving his B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University he worked as a chauffeur, theatre technician and television extra in New York. He then earned a Master’s from the University of Montana and went to live in San Francisco. He began to publish his work in »Esquire«, »The Paris Review« and »The New Yorker«. In 1996 he was awarded the Cohen Award from Richard Ford for his short story »Ploughshares«. The story is also found in his first collection, which appeared in 2000.

One year later Greer achieved acclaim for his first novel, »The Path of Minor Planets«. The »San Francisco Chronicle« listed the book as one of the five most important literary events of the year. It is the story of a group of astronomers who from 1965 to 1989 met every six years to observe a comet discovered by one of them. This narrative frame has been used by the author to explore the central theme in his work up until now: time as both the playground and stage for the bonds between humans who in their own way are all outsiders. The observations and reflections of the various characters are represented in confident, powerful sentences, which describe how these characters drift towards one another and are later repelled, without ever being able to join together. Meticulous, inventive and insightful, Greer shapes impressions into a melancholic, almost age-wise picture, and in the end shows the importance of living in the present, and the potential of every given moment.

When his second novel »The Confessions of Max Tivoli« came out in 2004, it virtually turned critics upside down. In one review, John Updike wrote that the novel is »enchanting, in the perfumed, dandified style of disenchantment brought to grandeur by Proust and Nabokov.« In fact, Greer adapted the language of his story, which takes place at the turn of the century, and tells in an antiquated fashion the tale of a truly impossible love. Time has dealt the protagonist a bad card: he is born into the world in the body of a seventy-year-old man, who becomes ever younger. Therefore the fulfilment of love in his life is a failure, however it envelops his entire existence. The novel opens fresh perspectives onto the old theme of love and the role of time, and is reminiscent of Vonnegut’s science fiction as well as Kafka’s parabolic figures, Grass’s picaresque Oskar Matzerath and Nabokov’s pathetic sensualist Humbert Humbert. The novel has appeared in over twenty-two countries. Early this year Greer went on a reading tour through Europe with this book. Most recently, it won two prestigious awards in the US: the California Book Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award for an author under 35.

© international literature festival berlin


How It Was for Me
Picador USA
New York, 2000

Die Nacht des Lichts
Frankfurt/Main, 2003
[Ü: Uda Strätling]

Die erstaunliche Geschichte des Max Tivoli
Frankfurt/Main, 2005
[Ü: Uda Strätling]

Übersetzer: Uda Strätling