23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Chad Harbach

Chad Harbach was born in 1975 in Racine, Wisconsin. He graduated both from Harvard and from the University of Virginia. Together with Mark Greif, Benjamin Kunkel and Keith Gessen, Chad Harbach is one of the initiators and Editors-in-Chief of New York literary magazine »n+1«, which the group set up in 2004 because they were fed up with business as usual in American literary criticism. The »Partisan Review«, which had folded not long before and the academic magazine »Lingua Franca« acted as role models. Since its foundation, the magazine has enjoyed a high reputation among both readers and authors because of its mixture of essays, critical theory and different forms of fictional text.

Apart from his editorial work, Harbach wrote and honed his carefully intricate debut novel, »The Art of Fielding« (2011) for almost a decade, following in the footsteps of his role model, David Foster Wallace, not only stylistically and in his composition, but also by working with the same editor. At the beginning of 2010, the rights were bought at auction for 650 000 dollars, an unusually high sum for a debut. The book immediately received an enthusiastic reception in the arts sections of the American press. And »New York Times« iconic critic, Michiko Kakutani, said of Harbach, he »has the rare abilities to write with earnest, deeply felt emotion without ever veering into sentimentality, and to create quirky, vulnerable and fully imagined characters who instantly take up residence in our own hearts and minds«. The subtle mixture of baseball and college novel, which reaches far beyond the boundaries of campus and baseball diamond, was also well-received by other writers like John Irving, Bret Easton Ellis and Jonathan Franzen. In addition, Harbach’s »n+1« colleague Keith Gessen published an eBook documenting the story of how the novel came about. To this date, more than 250 000 copies of »The Art of Fielding« as the well as the rights for a planned mini-series on American TV channel HBO have already been sold.

With his debut work, which centers on the oldest, most traditional and most popular game in America, Harbach joins a great number of illustrious US authors such as Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Richard Ford and Don DeLillo who dealt in their respective novels with America’s baseball fascination in virtuosic literary manner. Talking about the connection between baseball and literature, Harbach said: »Yes, there’s a narrative arc to a game that’s really satisfying. […] Baseball is lonely — it’s a team sport, of course, but it puts each player on the team in difficult, isolated situations. It’s also a slow, contemplative game, with a lot of gaps and spaces for reflection, which suits most writers«. The German translation of »The Art of Fielding« will be published in August by DuMont. Chad Harbach lives in Brooklyn.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


The Art of Fielding
Little, Brown and Company
New York, 2011

Die Kunst des Feldspiels
Köln, 2012
[Ü: Stephan Kleiner, Johann Christoph Maass]