Franzobel was born Franz Stefan Griebel in 1967 in the Upper Austrian Vöcklabruck. Following the Matura he went to Vienna in 1986 to study German Studies and History. During his studies, which he completed in 1994 with a Diplom, he studied painting and conceptual art intensively, and made his first attempts as a visual artist. He began writing as well in 1989, and has been a freelance writer since 1991.
His first works were self-published. When he was named Town Scribe for Linz (1992/93) the Austrian literary scene first took notice of him. He became known to a wider audience at the very latest when he was awarded the Ingeborg-Bachmann Prize in 1995 for »Krautflut« (tr: Cabbage Flood), a story from everyday life wrapped up in acrobatic cascades of words. With many of his published works – which cover the spectrum from novels and poetry collections to stage plays and libretti for operas and operettas – the word artist has become one of the most famous and controversial authors of the Alpine republic. Instrumental in this is his largely well-received novel »Scala Santa oder Josefine Wurznbachers Höhepunkt« (2000, tr: Scala Scala, or Josefine Wurznbacher’s Climax). Superficially a sex-and-crime story with direct reference to Felix Salten’s Josefine Mutzenbacher, the book focuses on »the combination of Catholic fervour and sexual heat« (Frankfurter Rundschau) in Viennese suburbs, and makes full use of the author’s linguistic talents – quite often aiming below the belt. Austrian circumstances are one of his main themes: whether in his novel »Das Fest der Steine oder die Wunderkammer der Exzentrik« (2005, tr: The Festival of Stones, or the the Cabinet of Eccentricities), in which Argentina is overrun by post-war Austrians who spout Nazi slogans, or in the collection »Österreich ist schön. Ein Märchen« (2009, tr: Austria is Beautiful. A Fairytale), which focuses on the situation of migrants. When he has had enough of Austrian circumstances, he turns to another great passion – football – as in the book »Der Schwalbenkönig« (2006, tr: The Diving King). The author, who describes himself as a »word actionist« (Sprachaktionist), is related through his writings to the avant-garde of the Wiener Gruppe, above all Ernst Jandl and Reinhard Priessnitz. But many other influences can be identified: he says himself, »I read practically everything I can get my hands on – from Achternbusch to Zuckmayer, but comics and fairytales have also strongly influenced me.«
Franzobel has won many literary prizes, including the Bert-Brecht-Medal , the Arthur-Schnitzler-Prize and the Nestroy Theatre Prize. He lives in Vienna, Pichlwang and Buenos Aires.