Klaus Kordon

Portrait Klaus Kordon
© Hartwig Klappert

Klaus Kordon was born in Pankow in northeast Berlin, in 1943.  He grew up in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.  Both Kordon’s parents died when he was a child: his father during the war and his mother in 1956, after which he lived in several children’s homes.  He had various professions, including jobs in transportation and warehousing.  After gaining his Abitur (university entrance qualification) at an adult education centre he went on to study Economics.

The author recorded the impressions and observations he made on his business trips as an exporter to Asia and North Africa in novels such as ‘Spucke im Sand’ (1987). In 1973 he emigrated to West Germany after a year as a political prisoner.

Kordon’s first novel, ‘Tadaki’, was published in 1977. In 1979 ‘Brüder wie Freunde’ (1978) was the first of his books to be shortlisted for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. The novel is the first part of the ‘Frank Trilogie’, a strongly autobiographical examination of the history of divided Berlin.  “I can only tell the story which would have interested me at that age”, Kordon says.

He focuses particularly on ordinary people. His ‘Trilogie der Wendepunkte’ relates the story of a Berlin family over three generations, depicting a life of misery in a gloomy city courtyard and yet a tremendous will to survive.  The years 1918, 1932/33 and 1945 are the key dates in this family chronicle.  ‘Die Zeit’ described the three novels ‘Die Roten Matrosen oder Ein vergessener Winter’ (1984), ‘Mit dem Rücken zur Wand’ (1990) and ‘Der erste Frühling’ (1993) as “history from below”.

Kordon has worked as a freelance writer since 1980.  His numerous publications include short stories, poetry, and books for children and young people.  In 1995 he was awarded the ‘Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis’ for his Erich Kästner biography ‘Die Zeit ist kaputt’. Explaining their decision, the jury emphasized how “this biography convincingly combines artistic achievements and the course of political events”. Kordon lives in Berlin.

© international literature festival berlin