23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Artur Becker
© Hartwig Klappert

Artur Becker

Artur Becker was born in 1968, the son of German-Polish parents, in Bartoszyce (Masuria). He has lived in Germany since 1985. He studied the Cultural History of Eastern Europe and German Language and Literature, and, since 1989, has written novels, short stories, poetry and essays exclusively in German.

His first novel »Der Dadajsee« (1997, tr: The Dadaj Lake) is about the countryside of his childhood, to which a Polish Gastarbeiter returns from Germany. Masuria remains, in his later works, the soil in which his writing has its roots: »I see Masuria as my own landscape. Every writer has certain chores. And my chore and duty is to address my home, that is, to tell stories about Masuria and to reveal this place.« Masuria also often serves as the starting point for a world tour. In »Onkel Jimmy, die Indianer und ich« (2001, tr: Uncle Jimmy, the Indian, and Me) a 16-year-old boy emigrates to Canada with his anarchist uncle to fulfil his dream of becoming a musician, before returning to Masuria after nine adventurous years abroad. »Kino Muza« (2003, tr: Cinema Muza) is about a ticket attendant who commutes between two political systems. The picaresque novel »Das Herz von Chopin« (2006, tr: Chopin’s Heart) in turn is a story of border-crossings which deals ironically with the romance of the émigré and car dealer milieu. Becker’s novella »Die Zeit der Stinte« (tr: The Time of the Smelts), also published in 2006, is about a German-Polish Spätaussiedler (resident of the former German territories to the east) who begins to investigate the murder of a concentration camp commander by three prisoners at the end of the Second World War. Becker’s most important – and controversial – work to date is his novel »Wodka und Messer. Lied vom Ertrinken« (2008, tr: Vodka and Knife. A Song of Drowning). Against the backdrop of recent Polish history – the Solidarnosc movement, martial law, the changes which came in 1989 and the time which followed – he tells the story of Kuba Dernicki, a dissident who flees to the West. Twenty years later he returns to his birthplace in Masuria, where he is confronted by the dark secrets of the past. Artur Becker’s latest novel »Der Lippenstift meiner Mutter« (2010, tr: My Mother’s Lipstick) is also set in a bizarre small town in Masuria, populated by all kinds of weird characters, from which a young rebel dreams of escaping.

The author has won numerous prizes and grants, including the Adelbert-von-Chamisso-Prize in 2009. Becker writes regularly for the »Frankfurter Rundschau«, the »Rheinischen Merkur« and other newspapers. He lives in Verden an der Aller, near Bremen.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Der Dadajsee
Bremen, 1997

Onkel Jimmy, die Indianer und ich
Hoffmann und Campe
Hamburg, 2001

Die Zeit der Stinte
Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag
München, 2006

Wodka und Messer. Lied vom Ertrinken
Frankfurt/Main, 2008

Ein Kiosk mit elf Millionen Nächten
Bremen 2009

Der Lippenstift meiner Mutter
Frankfurt/Main, 2010