23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Michal Hvorecký
© Hartwig Klappert

Michal Hvorecký

The Slovakian writer and journalist Michal Hvorecký was born in 1976 in Bratislava. He studied Art History and semiotics-oriented Aesthetic Theory at the University of Nitra. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Iowa (USA) for a term in 2004, and has spent extended periods abroad in Belgium, Germany and Austria.

His novel »Plyš« (2005; tr. City) is a love story set in modern Europe in the era of globalisation. The story was dramatised, and premièred at the Schauspiel Hannover. Hvorecký’s third novel, »Eskorta« (2007), is about modern Europe after the collapse of the political and economic systems in the East, and tells the story of Michal Kirchner, an unemployed actor who jobs at an escort service for rich managers’ wives. The novel not only provides a portrait of the effects of turbo-capitalism on the Slovakian capital Bratislava; Hvorercký’s hero also finds himself in the country’s northern regions, where poverty and decay stand in stark contrast to the luxurious world of the new designer hotels in the capital in which Michal services his clients: »Two months ago I had to orally pleasure an older Italian woman every two hours, and if I didn’t manage it within two minutes, she would hit me on the head with a copy of ›Vogue‹. The magazine was still shrink-wrapped, and from both sides protruded hard little sample packets of creams.« He encounters sexual obsession, greed and arrogance, but the callboy Michal is substantially compensated for his humiliations. When, however, he falls in love for the very first time, the relationship ends tragically. Broken and addicted to drugs, he lives as an ad writer in Berlin: following a quite unusual gender reassignment he becomes a woman and, as Michaela Kirchner, gives birth to a daughter. Michal Hvorecký has written a grotesque novel about Europe in transformation between East and West, between the present and the future, a roguish novel about the excesses of globalisation. In his occasionally grotesque reflections on society, he can be placed in a tradition along with Michel Houellebecq and Matias Faldbakken.

Michal Hvorecký writes mostly in Slovakian, and his first play to be written in German, »Slowakisches Institut. Eine Satire« (tr: Slovakian institute. A satire) was premièred at the Theater Forum Schwechat in 2009. His essays and stories have been published in the FAZ and the ZEIT, among others. In November 2009 he was awarded the International Journalism Prize in Berlin.

2012 saw the appearance of his novel »Tod auf der Donau« (tr.: Death on the River Danube), a satire about the excesses of tourism. The hero is a moneyless translator, who has to make a living by entertaining American tourists on cruise ships. Together with Hvoreckýs alter ego, the reader travels the 3,000 kilometers on the waterway from Regensburg to the Black Sea, exploring the route of the historical river and crossing the gateway to the East. »No other city on the Danube has been destroyed and rebuilt as often as Belgrade. The Danube was a true lifeline for Belgrade and Serbia: Baroque, the Enlightenment, Sauerkraut and psychoanalysis. The novel also describes the destiny of a generation of migrants trying to find a job and a home. Michal Hvorecký lives as an independent writer in Bratislava.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Jäger und Sammler
Wien, 2004
[Ü: Mirko Kraetsch]

City – Der unwahrscheinlichste aller Orte
Berlin, 2006
[Ü: Mirko Kraetsch]

Stuttgart, 2009
[Ü: Mirko Kraetsch]

Die Zukunft des Kapitalismus
[Hrsg. Frank Schirrmacher u. Thomas Strobl]
Berlin, 2010

Tod auf der Donau
Stuttgart 2012
[Ü: Michael Stavarič]