Marie-Luise Scherer was born in Saarbrücken, Germany, in 1938. Between 1974 and 1998 she was a writer for the news magazine ‘Der Spiegel’, for which she meticulously researched and wrote brilliant linguistic reportages; texts which are not only extraordinary documentations, but also jewels of literary journalism. Marie-Luise Scherer has twice received the Egon-Erwin-Kirsch Prize: in 1978 for her reportage ‘Der Zustand, eine hilflose Person zu sein’ (Engl: The Condition of being a Helpless Person), and in 1980 for the family drama of a heroin addicted son ‘Auf Deutsch gesagt: gestrauchelt’ (Engl: In plain language: derailed). Human beings and their destinies are registered under a “cold needlefine” gaze, which nevertheless remains committed to participation. At the same time, strikingly clear but partly terrifying panoramas emerge. In 1988 a selection of Scherer’s texts came out for the first time as a book, under the title ‘Ungeheurer Alltag’ (Engl: Monstrous everyday life). Within the work one can find ‘Der unheimliche Ort Berlin’ (Engl: That Uncanny Place Berlin), a place she enters as a “poetic commissar” (Hubert Winkels in ‘Die Zeit’). Her interest is always directed towards “the extreme rituals of quotidian coexistence”, “which ultimately turn extreme, just as they are grazed by Scherer’s ‘horrifying perception'”, wrote Angelika Overath in the ‘Neue Zürcher Zeitung’. Gustav Seibt called Scherer’s book ‘Der Akkordeonspieler’, which appeared in 2004 in Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s ‘Die Andere Bibliothek’ series, ‘out-standing literature’. She chooses her subjects with “equal attention”: the mass murders in ‘Die Bestie von Paris’ and the agony of the creature in the German-German ‘dogfrontiers’ are treated with the same interest as the mundane milieu of the film and fashion world. Seibt’s conclusion: ‘Marie-Luise Scherer can do anything’. Friedmar Appel sees her as a “physiognomist of the world of things in the tradition of Walter Benjamin”. Arno Widmann called her “a master of clashing tendencies”, who has succeeded in “letting sentences full of the most sober reality sound as if they were from a fairy tale.” In 1994 Marie-Luise Scherer was awarded the Ludwig-Börne Prize in recognition of her distinguished performance in news reportage. The author died in December 2022.
© international literature festival berlin