23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Christophe Boltanski

The French writer and essayist Christophe Boltanski, born in 1962 in Boulogne-Billancourt, is the son of sociologist Luc Boltanski and nephew of visual artist Christian Boltanski. After completing his studies in 1987 at the Centre de formation des journalistes in Paris, he subsequently worked for the journal »Progrès égyptien« as part of his national service. From 1989 to 2007 he wrote for Parisian-based »Libération«, was subsequently a correspondent, covering the second Gulf War among other stories, and lived in Jerusalem from 1995 to 2000 and London from 2000 to 2004. For his reportage »Les Mineurs de l’enfer«, about miners working in North Kivu Province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he received the Prix Bayeux-Calvados des correspondants de guerre in 2010. He has published several non-fiction works, including »Les Sept Vies de Yasser Arafat« (1997; tr. The seven lives of Yasir Arafat), »Bethléem: 2000 ans de passion« (2000; tr. Bethlehem: 2000 years of passion) and »Chirac d’Arabie« (2006; tr. Chirac of Arabia), about the deceased French president’s close ties to the Arab world.

Published in 2015, his debut novel, »La Cache« (Eng. »The Safe House«, 2017), tells his family’s story. His astuteness and humor bring to life the world inhabited by his Jewish-Corsican-Breton family, starting with the latter third of the 19th century, moving on to the pogroms in Eastern Europe, life after the Second World War in Rue Grenelle in Paris, being on the run, and the Algerian War, right up to the 1970s. Thus, during the Second World War, Boltanski’s grandfather was forced to hide for two years in a tiny space, in which he could neither sit nor lie down. The chaos of history shaped this family of intellectuals and artists; their checkered lives were closely linked to this unique Parisian domicile. »We were afraid. Especially of nothing, of other people, of ourselves. Of small and big stories. Of honest people, who could turn into criminals under certain circumstances. Of the mutability of people and life. Of the worst, because it was sure to happen; a fear that was passed down to me by my family early on, almost the minute I was born.«

»La Cache« won the Prix Femina in 2015, the Prix Transfuge du meilleur premier roman, the Prix de la rentrée and the Prix des prix littéraires. He is chief editor of »XXI«, a quarterly review, and lives in Paris.


Les Sept Vies de Yasser Arafat

[mit Jihan al-Tahri]


Paris, 1997


2000 ans de passion

[mit Farah Mébarki u. Rémi Benali]


Paris, 2000

Chirac d’Arabie

Les Mirages d’une politique française

[mit Éric Aeschimann]


Paris, 2006

Minerais de sang

Les esclaves du monde moderne

[Fotografien von Patrick Robert]


Paris, 2012

Das Versteck


München, 2017

[Ü: Tobias Scheffel]