23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Graham Gardner

Graham Gardner was born in 1975 in Worcestershire, where he grew up along with nine brothers and sisters. His jobs have included: fruit picker, bookseller and waiter before going on to study social and political geography at the University of Wales, in Aberystwyth. In his dissertation he examined the connections between power, community, and social changes in rural regions. In September 2009, he is to embark on a new career as librarian and bookshop manager at St Marylebone School in London. Gardner entered various literary competitions as a child and his work was well received. He says of his writing: »I write visually: I ›see‹ in my mind a picture of what I’m going to write about, and I do my best to describe the picture in words. As I’m doing that, I think about what the picture means and try to put that into words too. I’m particularly concerned with portraying my main character’s thinking and emotions – I can’t begin a story without knowing their intentions and motivations«.

His much-lauded début as a writer came with the novel »Inventing Elliot« (2003), inspired equally by George Orwell’s »1984« and his own experiences, here he looks at the themes of identity, power structures, violence, and civil courage. The author writes from the perspective of thirteen year-old Elliot, who hopes to escape his previous role as victim when he moves to a new school, but attracts the attention of the gang »the Guardians«, which has existed for years in secrecy with changing members. Elliot’s old fears re-emerge as a constant companion and the game of masks takes over his life; this causes a crisis of identity, he must decide whether he is ready to become a perpetrator of crime to avoid remaining a victim. The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« commented: »Gardner’s novel is dominated by a menacing atmosphere […] He drives his social parable along through swift, direct language. And it is precisely because he describes events as cold and inevitable and depicts the tormenting of the youths in such detail, that the story does not slip into kitsch when, at the end, compassion and love triumph as the only response to violence and power structures«. »Inventing Elliot« has been translated into more than ten languages and has won many awards, including the German Young Fiction Prize of the youth jury in 2005. Graham Gardner lives and works in Aberystwyth.

© international literaturefestival berlin


Im Schatten der Wächter
Freies Geistesleben
Stuttgart, 2004
[Ü: Alexandra Ernst]