23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Michael Fehr

Michael Fehr was born in 1982 and grew up in Bern. He studied at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel and at the Bern University of the Arts. In 2013, he made his début with »Kurz vor der Erlösung: Siebzehn Sätze« (tr: Close to Salvation: Seventeen Sentences), a volume that avoids generic categorization. By eschewing punctuation and grammatical rules, Fehr presents his storytelling as a performance, as the written version of the original form of oral literary traditions. Due to his restricted eyesight, his texts are created through dictation with the help of recording software; thus, one focus of his work lies in playing with sounds and meanings and in the plasticity of language and the process of searching for a word or expression. A choir of many voices emerges, joining the chapter with a modern Christmas story, although the order of the chapters is nonlinear. Fehr represents an archaic narrative tradition that strives to return to the oral sources of literature and, in doing so, consciously utilizes the textures of breath, voice, and musicality. Within the context of the 2014 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, Fehr presented »Simeliberg« (2015, tr: Simeli Mountain) which received the Kelag Prize. The text reads »as if Kafka and Beckett had concocted a crime story together« (Denis Scheck). Here, Fehr continues his experiments with forms of language, writing from a world in which the reliability of linguistic codes has been lost. Cumbersome officialese is contradicted by numerous oral expressions and neologisms. »Simeliberg«, which is simultaneously a portrayal of Switzerland, a crime story, and sound art, tells of the quirky farmer Schwarz, the search for his missing wife and the eccentric people in an inhospitable place where mysterious things happen. In his most recent volume »Glanz und Schatten« (2017, tr: Shine and Shadow) Fehr turns to the struggle between humans, animals, places, and things in amusing dialogue and describes events such as the dismemberment of a partridge or a man fighting against a swarm of mosquitos in beautiful, but sometimes also monstrous imagery that he dissects, swirls around and puts together anew.

Fehr is a co-founder of »Babelsprech«, a project for the international promotion of young poets which he also directed until 2015. Since 2013 he has also been a juror for the Treibhaus literary competition. From 2015 to 2016 he was a member of the the in-house author collective of the Lucerne Theater. He has won numerous Swiss literary prizes and has received grants from the Villa Aurora in the USA (2016), the Sangam House in India (2017) and the Landis & Gyr Stiftung in London (2018/2019). The author lives in Bern.


Kurz vor der Erlösung
Der gesunde Menschenversand
Luzern, 2013
Der gesunde Menschenversand
Luzern, 2015
Glanz und Schatten
Der gesunde Menschenversand
Luzern, 2017