23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Thomas von Steinaecker

The German writer, film director, and journalist Thomas von Steinaecker was born in Traunstein, Bavaria in 1977. He studied German, English, and American literature in Munich and Cincinnati and received his doctorate in 2006. He worked as a freelance journalist and published several short stories during his studies.

After the first broadcast of his debut radio play »Meine Tonbänder sind mein Widerstand« [tr: My Tapes Are My Resistance] on Bayerischer Rundfunk in 2007, he published his acclaimed first novel »Wallner beginnt zu fliegen« [tr: Wallner Begins to Fly] the same year. The novel is a family saga that spans three generations while asking whether it is even possible to tell the true story of a family. The novel was shortlisted for the German Book Prize. In his Leipzig Book Fair Prize-nominated fourth novel, »Das Jahr, in dem ich aufhörte, mir Sorgen zu machen, und anfing zu träumen« [2012; tr: The Year I Stopped Worrying and Started Dreaming], he tells the story of an insurance saleswoman who encounters a supposed revenant of her grandmother who runs an amusement park in Russia, blurring the lines between reality and fairground fantasy.

His futuristic fifth novel »Die Verteidigung des Paradieses« [2016; tr: The Defense of Paradise], which was also shortlisted for the German Book Prize, uses post-apocalyptic imagery. In this dystopia, the teenager Heinz grows up in the mountains amongst a small group of survivors after the decline of humanity. He tries to preserve the knowledge and art of the lost civilization until the group finally sets off on a dangerous journey westward to a supposedly better life. His most recent non-fiction book »Ende offen. Das Buch der gescheiterten Kunstwerke« [2021; tr: Open Ended: The Book of Failed Works of Art] employs small essays to explore the reasons why novels, films, paintings, and compositions by well-known artists were not completed.

Von Steinaecker dramatized Roger Willemsen’s last text »Wer wir waren« [tr: Who We Were] for a one-off performance at the Staatstheater Darmstadt in 2017. His films include »Richard Strauss und seine Heldinnen« [2013/14; tr: Richard Strauss and His Heroines], which won the International Classical Music Award as well as an ECHO Klassik Award, and »Leonard Bernstein – Das zerrissene Genie« [2017/18; tr: Leonard Bernstein – The Torn Genius], which received the Golden Prague at the 2018 International Television Festival. His radio plays and features are mostly dedicated to literary figures and composers such as Arno Schmidt, Heinrich Böll, Paul Celan, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

He has won many awards including the Aspekte Literature Prize, the Literature Prize of the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft, and the Carl Amery Literature Prize. He has been a member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature since 2018. The author lives in Augsburg.

Date: 2022