23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Martín Kohan

Martín Kohan was born in Buenos Aires in 1967. He studied literature at the University of Buenos Aires, where he received a doctorate with a thesis on the Argentine national hero San Martín and where he currently teaches literary theory. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco in Trelew and is a literary critic, writing for newspapers such as the daily »Clarín«.

In his work Kohan combines lively story lines with reflections on politics and aesthetics. Precision in linguistic and narrative terms is achieved with an acute sense of irony. His lucid and finely taut considerations of divisive moments and myths from Argentine history have established his position in his country’s intellectual landscape.

Kohan’s first novel, »La pérdida de Laura« (t: Laura’s loss) was published in 1993. The two novels that followed, »El informe« (1997; t: The report) and »Los cautivos« (2000; t: The captives), address different moments in Argentine history. The latter sets »real« gauchos in opposition to the romanticized view of them. His fourth novel, »Dos veces junio« (2002; t: Twice June), which met with great acclaim in his native country, is concerned with the Argentine military dictatorship. Narrated from the perspective of a conscript who is confronted by his superior’s questions regarding the age at which children may be tortured, he tells of moral decay and the harrowing ingenuity of many people who collaborated with the regime.

The novel »Segundos afuera« (2005; t: Seconds outside) presents an artfully constructed story about the seventeen seconds which led to the Argentine contender Firpo’s defeat when fighting the American boxing champion Dempsey in 1923. Fifty years later this episode was chosen by the sports editor of a Patagonian provincial paper for a jubilee edition. While researching, he stumbles on an inconspicuous death announcement which – a further twenty years later – exposes the connection between the boxing match and another big event which took place at the exact same time: the performance of Mahler’s First Symphony by Richard Strauss in Buenos Aires. The novel sets up multi-faceted links between its various narrative strands and temporal planes while at the same time keeping track of the tense relationship between high and popular culture.

Kohan has also published story and essay collections, including »Zona Urbana« (2004; t: Urban Zone) on Walter Benjamin and »Imágenes de vida, relatos de muerte« (1998; t: Images of life, accounts of death) about Eva Perón. In his most recent novel, »El museo de la revolución« (2006; t: Museum of the Revolution), Kohan once more sets political and aesthetic questions up against one another: the journals of a leftwing activist in an Argentina that was ideologically stirred-up in the seventies are, twenty years later, read by a publisher who wants to publish them. Martín Kohan lives in Buenos Aires.

© international literature festival berlin


La pérdida de Laura
Buenos Aires, 1993

El informe
Buenos Aires, 1997

Imágenes de vida, relatos de muerte
Buenos Aires, 1998

Los cautivos
Buenos Aires, 2000

Dos veces junio
Buenos Aires, 2002

Zona Urbana
Buenos Aires, 2004

Narrar a San Martín
Adriana Hidalgo
Buenos Aires, 2005

El museo de la revolución
Buenos Aires, 2006

Frankfurt/Main, 2007
[Ü: Peter Kultzen]

Übersetzer: Peter Kultzen