23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Ulrich Peltzer
© Hartwig Klappert

Ulrich Peltzer

Ulrich Peltzer was born in Krefeld in 1956. At the age of eighteen he moved to Berlin, where he studied philosophy and psychology. He published his first novel, »Die Sünden der Faulheit« (t: The sins of sloth) in 1987. His growing body of work, consisting of five novels to date, has been awarded the Anna Seghers Prize, the Prize of the SWR premier list, the Bremen Award for Literature and the Berlin Literature Award, which he has received on two occasions.

Remaining realistic, yet without naturalistic pretensions, Pelzer attempts to understand the the modern Western metropolis to the core. »Die Sünden der Faulheit«, a detective story set in Berlin, is at the same time a critical social analysis which does not follow a safe black and white formula. His much acclaimed, grand-scale novel »Stefan Martinez« (1995) presents a sparkling explosion of Berlin impressions, creating a highly ambivalent picture of a city in transition. The plot carries the reader along through a »geometrical pattern of streets, with countable infinite possibilities as to how to return to the underground«.

»Alle oder keiner« (1999; t: All or none), which is shorter but just as penetrating in its analysis, tells of the disappearance of individuals from history. The book is concerned with the generation of ’78 – the in-between generation – too young to belong to ’68 and too old for punk. Bernhard, a scholar who is working on a new handbook of forensic psychology, is depicted as a member of this generation. Like the protagonist in »Stefan Martinez«, he wanders through Berlin at night, however the capital is no longer a pulsating challenge, but just a point of exit back to reality. The question as to »How does the story end?« posed by a flamboyant, young fan of techno-punk concerts, frees memories of past hopes and illusions. Bernhard starts facing up to his rebellious past when he had still believed that he had found a language to describe the world. He tries to reconstruct how he lost his faith and to find a way of living without it. »Bryant Park,« (2002) tackles the (im)possibility of such a literary reconstruction of history. The narrator goes to New York to research the life of an American author in the baptismal and parish registers at the Public Library. Peltzer imposes his own associative and volatile style on brittle modern identities. The reader catches a glimpse of consciousness overcome by excitement – until September 11th looms large on the scene.

Peltzer’s latest novel, »Teil der Lösung« (2007; t: Part of the solution), is also set in Berlin. The characters shift between settled lives and protesting against them, terrorism and post-modern theories, against the backdrop of ever-present state surveillance. The novel met with enthusiastic acclaim. Peltzer lives in Berlin. In 2008 he held the Heiner Müller guest professorship for German language poetry at the Free University.

© international literature festival berlin


Die Sünden der Faulheit
Zürich, 1987

Stefan Martinez
Zürich, 1995

Alle oder keiner
Zürich, 1999

Bryant Park
Zürich, 2002

Teil der Lösung
Zürich, 2007