22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Uwe Timm

Uwe Timm was born in Hamburg in 1940. He completed a furrier apprenticeship and, after the death of his father, took over his fur business and ran it for three years. In 1963 he went back to school and completed his sixth form studies before going on to study German language and literature as well as philosophy in Munich and Paris. After graduating in 1971, he founded the »Wortgruppe München« and joined forces with other authors to publish the »Literarische Hefte«. He was a co-publisher of the »AutorenEdition« from 1972 to 1982.

Timm’s work has its roots in the protest movement of 1968 and yet maintains a critical detachment from it. His stories – frowned upon at the time for his use of narration – stand out for their well-informed portrayals and descriptions, faithful dialogues, adept plot development, rich allusions and increasing irony. The successful novels and short stories that have followed Timm’s literary début with political poetry are often set against the backdrop of his personal experiences in post-war Germany. His early works in particular depict spiritually homeless protagonists and shed light on forms of domination and the possibilities of overcoming them. »Heißer Sommer« (1974; t: Hot summer) presents the period of student unrest up to radicalisation, »Kerbels Flucht« (1980; t: Kerbel’s escape) the waning of the movement in the seventies. The highly acclaimed novel »Rot« (2001; t: Red) chronicles a time span of thirty years. In the last seconds before his death, a man from the generation of ’68 remembers all the stages of his life in a funeral eulogy. In 2005, in his book »Der Freund und der Fremde« (t: The friend and the stranger) Timm recalls Benno Ohnesorg, a fellow sixth form student, who read Timm’s first texts. His violent death at the anti-Shah demonstration in Berlin, 1967, led to the student unrest of 1968. In novels such as »Morenga« (1978; Eng. 2003) – which deals with the German Empire’s colonial war in South West Africa – Timm approaches the power structures and characteristics of German culture in contrast to other nations.

Timm is also among the greats of children’s literature. His most famous children’s book, »Rennschwein Rüdi Rüssel« (1989; t: Rudi Rüssel the Racing Pig) was made into a film in 1995. Timm also wrote scripts for the films »Die Bubi Scholz Story« (1998) and »Eine Hand voll Gras« (2000; t: A handful of grass). In addition, he has composed radio plays and essays.

The author’s work has often been translated and honoured with numerous awards, including the Großer Literaturpreis by the Bayrische Akademie der Schönen Künste, the German Jugendliteraturpreis, the Jakob-Wassermann-Literaturpreis, the Premio Napoli and Premio Mondello. He has been writer-in-Residence, guest lecturer and grant holder both within Germany and abroad – most recently in the Villa Massimo in Rome. He now lives in Munich and Berlin.

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