22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sudabeh Mohafez

Sudabeh Mohafez was born in 1963 in Tehran, and grew up speaking three languages. She moved to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1979 with her German mother and Iranian father, where she studied Music, English Language and Literature and Pedagogy. After graduating she worked in various jobs, including running a women’s shelter. Her first literary texts appeared in journals and anthologies from 1999.

Mohafez’s writing is characterised by the intuition with which she traces psychic and physical wounds and by her poetic use of language. Both are already present in her début »Wüstenhimmel Sternensand« (2004, tr: Desert Sky Star Sand), a haunting depiction in short narratives of, among other things, the 1970s in Tehran. Themes like violence, dignity and the autonomy, but also complicity of women, as well as the fragility and powerlessness of children are in the foreground. Here the author deals with her professional experience working with victims of domestic violence in Germany, and impressions of Iranian life in the time before the Revolution. A poetic mixture of her Persian-influenced arabesques and a cooler, more abstract German reflects both the literary content and Mohafez’s own bilingual origins: »The words here didn’t grow on stems, or on trees, or on stalks or bushes. Kopf Stein Pflaster, for example« (tr: cobbles, literally »head–stone–paving«). In addition to the rather experimental »zehn-zeilen-buch« (tr: 10-line book), which explores the possibilities of extremely compressed narrative, she published her latest novel »brennt« (tr: burns) in 2010. It is about a woman who has a successful career in the music industry, but whose life runs off the rails when her flat is burned down. The author gently investigates the inner life of a woman whose recent trauma has been buried in silence and industrious activity. »I am interested in silence and how one lives with secrets«, says the author. Mohafez has also brought her poetical language to the stage: she wrote the text for Nina Kurzeja’s dance piece »Aeneas’ Entscheidung« (tr: Aeneas’ Decision), which is based on Henry Purcell’s opera »Dido and Aeneas« and was premièred in 2009. In February the director Wilfried Alt staged her play »Zurück ist ein Ort, den es nicht gibt« (tr: Back is a Place Which Does Not Exist) in Stuttgart.

The author has won several literary awards, including the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize and a nomination for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. In 2007 she was Poetry Lecturer at the Wiesbaden Academy. The author lives in Stuttgart.