23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Sharon Dodua Otoo
© Johanna Ghebray

Sharon Dodua Otoo

The British writer and journalist, Sharon Dodua Otoo, was born in 1972 in London to Ghanaian parents. She studied German and Management Studies at the Royal Holloway College, University of London until 1997. In 2006 she relocated to Germany.

In 2012 she published her first novella, titled »the things i am thinking while smiling politely«. With relentless, subtle irony, she tells the story of the creeping disintegration of a marriage and how the couple’s separation affects their children and their environment. In compliance with the formal characteristics of a novella, Otoo simultaneously plays with its various narrative possibilities, interleaves time axes and shifts between humor and gravity, and between description and reflection. The author, who is involved with the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD), addresses in her debut the theme of racism in Germany: »White people sometimes look at me as if I were their own private human zoo. Staring back doesn’t help.« Her second novella was published in 2014, initially in a German translation titled »Synchronicity«, and a year later in the English original (»Synchronicity. The Original Story«). The book plays on many levels with the idea of chromaticity: a designer increasingly loses her ability to perceive colors and soon sees her surroundings as gray and monotone. She ultimately finds a remedy in a synesthetic apprehension of various nuances of color. Otoo’s novella addresses themes such as racism, gentrification, mother-daughter relationships and the depressive alienation that can accompany winter in Berlin. In 2016 Sharon Dodua Otoo took part in the 40th Festival of German Language Literature (Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur) in Klagenfurt, where she won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for her contribution titled »Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin« (tr. Mr. Gröttrup sits down). The protagonist, the namesake of a German rocket engineer, is the prototype of a German bourgeois. One day his strictly categorized and ritualized daily routine comes undone when his breakfast egg fails to have its usual consistency and splatters onto his tie. The egg assumes the role of the ego and presents the married couple with sustained resistance. The jury for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize praised the text for its »effortless satire on German everyday life, in which a breakfast egg dares to rebel« as well as the author’s »keen eye for latent racism«.

Sharon Dodua Otoo is the editor of the English-language series »Witnessed«, of which five books have thus far been published. She also writes articles and commentary for »Missy Magazine«, »an.schläge«, »ak analye & kritik«, the »Tagesspiegel« and »African Courier«, among other media outlets. She lives with her four sons in Berlin.


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