23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Louis de Bernières
© Ali Ghandtschi

Louis de Bernières

Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954. He grew up in the Middle East and in Surrey, South England. At age 18 he joined the army, which he left after only four months, in order to migrate to South America. He taught English in Colombia, and held other jobs. Later, he studied philosophy in Manchester, and educational sciences in Leicester. He obtained an M.A. at the University of London, made his living as a gardener, a mechanic, and a teacher, until he embarked on a writer’s career.

Inspired by the time he spent in Colombia and his love for Latin American novelists, he published his first book in 1990. »The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts« is about a Lady, who has a river diverted in order to water her swimming pool. Alas, the little village nearby needs the river for its drinking water supply. Thus, its inhabitants use a number of tricks in order to undermine la Doña’s orders. »The War …« is the first volume of Bernières’ Latin America trilogy, a series of satirical novels about the despotic rule of the mighty ones and the resistance of ordinary people, written in a style that is strongly influenced by the literary tradition of the Magic Realism. Whereas his debut deals with the abuse of military power, his second book, »Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord« (1991), focuses on business, and the third one, »The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman« (1992), on religious fanaticism and the perversion of ideology. Bernières’ trilogy sold well in the UK. »Captain Corelli’s Mandolin« (1994) also gained him international fame, and in 2001 was turned into a movie starring Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage. The love story between an officer of the Italian occupational forces and the daughter of a Greek doctor on the island of Kefalonia during World War II has the reader delve into the theme of love in war times. Its structure and the multi-perspective approach remind us of Bernières earlier works. It is, however, less influenced by Magic Realism. The latter is stronger again in the novel’s successor, »Birds without Wings« (2004), about an Anatolian village at the turn of the twentieth century. In Eskibahçe Greeks and Turks live in harmony, until the maelstrom of World War I stirs up the once friendly neighbours against each other. The novel met with uncontested acclaim by the critics, who compared it to works by Tolstoy and Gabriel García Márquez. The author recently published »Notwithstanding« (2009), a collection of short stories, and the novel »A Partisan’s Daugher« (2009).

Louis de Bernières has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best book and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives and works in Norfolk.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Corellis Mandoline
Hoffmann und Campe
Hamburg, 1996
[Ü: Klaus Pemsel]

Der zufällige Krieg des Don Emmanuel
Hoffmann und Campe
Hamburg, 1998
[Ü: Klaus Pemsel]

Señor Vivo und die Kokabriefe
Fischer Taschenbuch
Frankfurt/Main, 1998
[Ü: Klaus Pemsel]

Das Kind des Kardinals
Fischer Taschenbuch
Frankfurt/Main, 1999
[Ü: Klaus Pemsel]

Traum aus Stein und Federn
S. Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 2005
[Ü: Manfred Allié u. Gabriele Kempf-Allié]