22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Gideon Lewis-Kraus

Portrait Gideon Lewis-Kraus
© Hartwig Klappert

Gideon Lewis-Kraus was born in 1980 and grew up in New Jersey. His literary debut, »A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful« (2012) is of a genre which eludes exact definition: it can be regarded as both an early memoir as well as an anthology of essayistic travel reports; his often philosophical digressions, so rich in allusion, are less about the locations along the journey and far more to do with an introspective confrontation with his own restlessness and family history; thoughts on subjects like the intrinsic excess of options facing the individual. And so Lewis-Kraus begins by recounting how he went to Berlin in 2007 on a Fulbright scholarship, in which the expectation of finding a kind of “Lost Generation” there, an idea already subverted by irony, instead develops into further stations or pilgrimages of self-discovery. He typed the first version in the form of emails using a retractable keyboard in his phone while he undertook the road to Santiago with his friend, author Tom Bissell, and went alone to the temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The last pilgrimage to the Ukrainian city of Uman to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, helped him to finally develop an understanding for the smouldering conflict with his father (a rabbi whose late coming out shattered the family). Lewis-Kraus’s literary favourites and stylistic influences include pioneers and masters of the American essay and New Journalism from Joan Didion and Janet Malcolm to David Foster Wallace, as well as several key works like W. G. Sebald’s »Die Ausgewanderten«, James Agee’s »Let Us Now Praise Famous Men« and Norman Mailer’s »Armies of the Night«. For »Wired« magazine, Lewis-Kraus wrote the essay In Search of the Living, Purring, Singing Heart of the Online Cat-Industrial Complex« (2012) in which he confronted the phenomenon of Internet cat videos. To get to the bottom of their enormous popularity, with clicks measuring in the millions, and to uncover the most absurd examples of an already bizarre mass fetish, he researched not just on the Internet, but also travelled to Japan and elsewhere to locate the epicentre of these strange offerings. By presenting himself as a protagonist in his research, he manages a subtle contemplation on our digital fascination for mediatized banality and its distorted realities.

Lewis-Kraus’ essays, reportage and critiques have been published in such publications as »Harper’s Magazine«, »McSweeney’s«, »The Believer«, »n+1«, and the »New York Times Magazine«. The author lives in Brooklyn, New York.