23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Felix Stephan
© Christian Werner

Felix Stephan

Felix Stephan was born in 1983 and grew up in the eastern part of the divided city of Berlin. That being said, he was also among the first generation of East Germans no longer required to wear the official GDR ›pioneer scarf‹ to his first day of grade school. He attended several secondary schools (Gymnasium) in Berlin and went on to study journalism and literature in Leipzig, Zurich and Hong Kong. From 2015 to 2017, he was the culture editor at »Zeit Online«. In a 2016 essay, he put forward the thesis that awkwardness, »which is the essential character of modern man, […] might possibly provide the long-awaited concept in which all other dominant aesthetic movements of the past several decades cancel each other out.«

Stephan wrote his debut novel »Ach, Lorenz« (tr. Oh, Lorenz) in 2010. In 2017, he published a documentary novel »Slawa und seine Frauen« (tr. Slava and his women) in which he tells the true story of his mother who – after her own children had grown up and moved out – set out to find her biological father. Although she only knew that his name was Wjatscheslaw Fahlbush and that he studied medicine in Leningrad in the 1960s, she succeeded relatively quickly in finding him with the help of social networks. Wjatscheslaw Fahlbush spent his life in the small West Ukrainian town of Uzhgorod and died in 1990 at the age of 48, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His wife, children and grandchildren soon became Stephan’s new, Ukrainian family: Ludmilla teaches English at the local school, Alexander is a psychiatrist in Israel, Boris was an investment banker in Moscow and Kostja was about to start serving in the Israeli military. »Slawa und seine Frauen« recounts the first tentative contacts between the German and Ukrainian parts of the family. It explores their attempts to fill the gaps in each other’s history and bridge cultural differences. It is also about the metamorphosis of Stephan’s mother, who grew up a German socialist only to realize that she was »a little less German and perhaps just someone who grew up in Germany.« His documentary novel also explores what it meant to discover that her father was Jewish.

Felix Stephan is a Treffen Junger Autoren 2003 (Young Authors’ Gathering) laureate. He has been a freelance author in Berlin since 2011. He writes about literature, pop culture and social affairs for the »Süddeutsche Zeitung«, »Die Welt«, »Zeit Online«, »Tagesspiegel« and »Monopol«, among others.


Ach, Lorenz

Mitteldeutscher Verlag

Halle, 2010

Slawa und seine Frauen


München 2017