Merle Kröger

Portrait Merle Kröger
© Anne Kuhlmeyer

Merle Kröger was born in Plön and studied journalism and film studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 1990 she founded the interdisciplinary artists’ group »Botschaft e. V.« and appertaining club/gallery/event location »Ihr Friseur« in Berlin-Mitte and, in 1992, the authors’ collective dogfilm, which produced documentaries, video installations and essay films until 2000. Their works have been broadcast on ARTE and 3sat, and have won awards at German and international film festivals.

Kröger is the author of a series of crime novels. She made her debut in 2003 with »Cut!«, followed by »Kyai!« (2006) and »Grenzfall« (2012; tr. Borderline case). Her crime novels are not only literary, but are politically motivated as well, addressing pressing contemporary issues while making forays into the realms of politics, war, power, religion and the coexistence of cultures. Her novels also venture into the world of Indian cinema and kung fu. Counter to the tradition of classic crime novels, her plots often feature no investigator; Kröger expands the genre in the direction of road movies, adventure novels and political thrillers: »A crime novel provides the opportunity to compress emotional and political moments and to remold reality as a realm of possibility.« Her most recent novel, »Havarie« (2015; tr. Disaster), tells of the encounter of a refugee boat with a luxury liner off the coast of Spain. Her, too, Kröger is close on the heels of current events as she explodes the boundaries of the crime genre. The story is told in a persuasive, suspenseful style, using cinematic means such as exploring the perspectives of 11 different characters, including a Syrian doctor fleeing Aleppo, who is hired as a launderer in the bilge of the cruise boat, the Algerian helmsman of the inflatable raft and a member of the Spanish coast guard, whose family is suffering under the financial crisis. The author has fittingly named the cruise ship »Spirit of Europe« while broaching a number of controversial European themes. Together with Philip Scheffner, Kröger made an eponymous film that premiered at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival in 2016. Based on a video Scheffner and Kröger came across on YouTube in 2012 – showing 13 people in an inflatable raft adrift at sea – the film scrutinizes the position of the observer of the catastrophe; the original video had been shot from the deck of cruise ship. The cinematic version of »Havarie« was produced by Pong Film, the documentary production company founded by Kröger and Scheffner in 2001.

Merle Kröger received the Deutscher Krimi Preis in 2013 for »Grenzfall« and in 2016 for »Havarie«; she was also honored with the Radio-Bremen-Krimipreis in 2015. She also writes screenplays for Indian and European film productions and works as a dramatic advisor. The author lives in Berlin.