22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Michael Greenberg

Michael Greenberg was born in New York in 1952. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 and travelled to Argentina where he worked as a reporter during the »Dirty War.« He is a contributing editor at the »Boston Review« and has been a columnist for the »Times Literary Supplement« in London since 2003. His essays, fiction, criticism and travel pieces have been published in such varied newspapers and magazines as »The New York Review of Books,« »O,« »The Oprah Magazine « and »The Village Voice.« Greenberg is also a screenwriter and has worked on film projects with Robert Frank, Rudy Wurlitzer, Sergio Castilla and David Atkins.

Since the publication of »Hurry Down Sunshine« (2008), which was praised as a »classic of its kind« by neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, Greenberg has become known to a wider audience. In this memoir, Greenberg describes his fifteen-year-old daughter Sally’s psychotic attack and the subsequent psychiatric treatment she received during the summer of 1996. He accompanies her to therapy and recounts the development of her illness from its onset to its eventual resolution and her reasonably normal life thereafter. He also writes about his own feelings of helplessness and the effects her condition has had on his marriage and environment. The sober accuracy of his report, conveyed through stark, unsparing prose and restrained dialogue, offers an intense contrast to the associative, metaphorical style and seemingly-poetic language of Sally’s mania. With its lack of sentimentality, the novel not only records the workings of fate, but also evokes a fascination for the workings of psychosis. According to Greenberg himself, he wanted to fill a gap in the litera – ture of madness – which he refers to several times over the course of the novel – by bringing the perspective of the patient’s loved ones into the foreground.

In his latest work, »Beg, Borrow, Steal: A writer’s life« (2009), Greenberg creates an autobiography out of pieces published in his bi-weekly column for the »Times Literary Supplement« between 2003 and 2009. The installments of anecdotal short stories, the many peculiar characters who populate them, and the dizzy life in the New York metropolis give the book a lively, pulsating atmos phere. Greenberg makes connections between fragments of his own life and political and social events; in this way he integrates his stories into the larger history of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Michael Greenberg lives in New York with his wife and son.

© international literaturefestival berlin