Sabrina Janesch was born in 1985 to a German-Polish family in Gifhorn. She studied Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism from 2004 to 2009 at the University of Hildesheim, and Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków for two semesters. Since graduating in 2009, Sabrina Janesch has worked as a freelance writer and journalist. The author’s German-Polish roots have not only influenced her studies but have also left their mark on her literary career. After raising attention with her triumph in the 2005 NDR O-Ton Literature Competition, Janesch became Gdansk’s first Writer-in-Residence, thanks to a grant from the German Cultural Forum for Eastern Europe.
Her début novel »Katzenberge« (2010, published by Aufbau Verlag) is about a young woman who undertakes a trip through Lower Silesia after the death of her grandfather, in search of her family’s German-Polish origins. Sabrina Janesch thereby touches on a delicate issue in recent history—the expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War. Her simple sentences, which seem to reproduce the magic of old black and white photography, precisely and suggestively tell the story of a farmer from Galicia who is relocated to Lower Silesia after the return of the former Polish territories to the Ukraine at the end of the Second World War, in order to take over farms previously owned by dead or expelled German settlers. In the attic of an abandoned farmhouse, he discovers the German owner who has hung himself. In the night, he imagines that he hears voices and footsteps and decides to get rid of the body. Janesch conjures up the ghosts of history in this novel, as it shifts between past and present; these ghosts cast their spell over the farmer’s granddaughter. Janesch was nominated for the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Prize in 2010 for »Katzenberge«. The author will also deal with the themes of origins and the German-Polish past in her next novel.
Sabrina Janesch received a scholarship from the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur the Stuttgart Writers’ House and the Literary Colloquium in Berlin in 2010. She lives in Münster.