22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Tobias Elsäßer

Portrait Tobias Elsäßer
© Ali Ghandtschi

Tobias Elsäßer, born in 1973 in Stuttgart, was a big music fan as a child and, among other stage appearances, took the lead in the children’s musical »Max und Moritz«. He sang with the band Chase the Bird from 1992 to 1995 and was a member of the boy group Yell 4 You between 1996 and 1998. He complemented his musical education in classical, jazz and pop vocals with commercial vocational training. After leaving the boy band and completing a traineeship at the television station B.TV, he began working as a tutor for pop vocals, a scriptwriter, a freelance journalist and a television presenter. In addition, he developed the »PopVoice« software for vocal training. One of his current musical projects is the band Goldstaub.

In 2004, Tobias Elsäßer finally presented his partly-autobiographical début novel »Die Boygroup« (tr: The Boy Group). His subsequent children’s books, »Ab ins Paradies« (2007, tr: Off to Paradise), »Vielleicht Amerika« (2008, tr: Maybe America) and »Abspringen« (2009, tr: Jumping Off) also deal with the close connection of music, literature and language. By using song lyrics as a narrative stylistic device, he makes transparent the ambivalence of his young characters’ emotional situations. Again and again in his books, he addresses the confrontation between youths and the socially canonised norms and modes of behaviour, using the individual fates of his characters as case studies. As a presenter of writing and song-writing workshops for young people, the author is familiar with the search for the right form of expression, especially in insecure situations, and the struggle for personal prospects in life. His current novel »Abspringen« includes occasionally explicit descriptions of the sexual awakening of the novel’s young male protagonist, and was subsequently critiqued as being inappropriately pornographic for a young audience. This accusation spurred a debate about whether such themes are treated as taboo in the world of German children’s literature. When asked about this issue during a publicity interview for his publisher, Tobias Elsäßer responded: »Young adult fiction is always a reflection of the time in which it’s set. And we happen to be living in a sexualised world. Whether it’s television or the Internet, young people are growing up differently today than in earlier times. If you want to take them seriously, you can’t escape this issue.«

In 2010, the author was awarded the inaugural Kranichsteiner Literary Scholarship for the same book. Tobias Elsäßer lives today in Ludwigsburg.