Nils Mohl

Nils Mohl [Germany]

Nils Mohl was born in Hamburg in 1971. He studied Literature in Kiel, Thübingen and Berlin and Cultural Management in Weimar, and worked in construction, retail and logistics. He now works as a writer for an agency, a lecturer on writing techniques at the University of Hamburg and as a freelance author.

Nils Mohl began to write in his late 20s and won prizes for his short stories, including the MDR Literature Prize and the Literary grant of the City of Hamburg. His book »Kasse 53« (2008, t: Checkout 53) was inspired by his own experiences working at a till in a department store. Nils Mohl describes six days in the life of a nameless character working in a department store somewhere in Hamburg in the summer of 1999. The book is anything but a light and humorous collection of anecdotes: it is the sobering panorama of a life in which day after day, hour after hour there is nothing but an endless stream of customers waiting to be served. »Ich wäre tendenziell für ein Happy End« (2009, t: I would tend to be in favour of a happy end) is a collection of 12 stories, remarkable for their precise characterisation. Each of the characters in these stories is fixated on success in different forms and is driven by internal and external forces. They are all lonelier than they are willing to admit. »Es war einmal Indianerland« (2011, t: Once upon a time in Indian Land), both a coming of age novel and a love story, is about a nameless 17-year old who grows up during the last couple of holiday weeks at the edge of a big city. »Es war einmal indianerland« is by no means only a book for young adults, but it is definitely a book which young people should read. The intensity with which Nils Mohl describes the feeling of being 17 and having »the right to be misunderstood by the world« (as one character in the novel phrases it) is impressive and bristling with authenticity. The book is not told chronologically and the narrative can probably best be described as a jigsaw with many pieces upside down and back to front, which must be carefully assembled and in which some pieces fall into place surprisingly late. Nils Mohl fast forwards and rewinds and smash cuts from scene to scene, vividly recalling the style and techniques of post-modern cinema. »Es war einmal Indianerland« a remarkable book, not least for the extremely unusual nature of the storytelling, very different from other books tackling the same themes. Carefully constructed and bursting with linguistic innovations, the book challenges accepted modes of delivery and develops an irresistible fascination.

Nils Mohl is a member of the Hamburg Authors’ Forum and has won several awards, including the Oldenburg Children and Youth Literature Award (2011 and the Kranichsteiner Youth Literature Grant (2012. In 2012 »Es war einmal Indianerland« was nominated for the German Prize for Youth Literature. He lives with his wife and their children in Hamburg.

© internationals literaturfestival berlin