Christian Kracht in Leeds

  • Date: Monday 19 - Tuesday 20 November, 2012
  • Categories:

2012 Wilhelm Raabe literature prize winner Christian Kracht gave a public reading from his latest novel Imperium (Empire) at the Leeds Central Library on Monday 19th October at 5:30pm.

This public event is hosted by the International Writers at Leeds series and the Faculty or Arts at University of Leeds. The organisers are grateful for the support of the Swiss Arts Council,

Scholarship on Kracht: An international bilingual research colloquium

University of Leeds, Tuesday 20 November 2012

Guest speakers: Dr. Johannes Birgfeld (Sarrbrücken) and Professor Frank Finlay (Leeds)
Organisers: Dr. Giles Harrington and Mandy Poetzsch

The colloquium seeks to explore a number of issues relating to the cultural impact and reception of works by Christian Kracht. It brings together German and English-language scholarship on the author’s work and picks up on recent explorations of Kracht’s interdisciplinarity and intermediality as well as journalistic reception of his recent work. The organisers also welcome papers where Kracht might be one of several authors considered.

Delegates addressed the subject from a number of disciplinary perspectives:

  • Travel
  • Place, space the location of the subject
  • Aesthetics & kitsch
  • History and ‘posthistory’
  • Dystopia and Utopia
  • Empire and postcolonialism

It is planned for the proceeds of this conference to be published in a forthcoming edited volume in the Contemporary German Writers and Filmmakers series.

Literature workshop “Ich werde hier sein, im Sonnenschein und im Schatten”

This workshop will first of all focus on the content and themes of the novel Ich werde hier sein, im Sonnenschein und im Schatten (2008). Students will have the chance to discuss the novel as well as possible adaptations with the author, who has recently finished work on the screenplay to forthcoming film Finsterworld (dir. Frauke Finsterwalder).

About the Author

Christian Kracht is a Swiss writer who rose to prominence in the mid-1990s with the publication of first novel Faserland (1995). Kracht was born in the region of Bern and attended Salem school in Baden Würtemberg before studying at Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, New York, in 1989.

He worked as the editor of the German pop culture periodical Tempo in the 1990s and was also the Delhi correspondent for current affairs magazine Der Spiegel. Travel and the experience of the exotic as are themes that run through the author’s work, from the vignettes in collections such as Ferien für immer (1998) and  Der gelbe Bleistift (2002) the imagined journey’s of the protagonists of 1979 (2001) and Imperium (2012).  Kracht’s biography is one of an experienced traveller: he lived in Bangkok and Buenos Aires when editing the magazine Der Freund (2004-2006) and currently lives at homes in Florence and Kenya with his wife, the director Frauke Finsterwalder.

While the author refers to his literature as “light entertainment” and “comedies”, work by Kracht has been the subject academic study for over a decadeRecent scholarship  has recognised the influence of theorists such as Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Žižek amongst others. His four novels can be read as examples of postmodern pastiche: a blend of influences borrowed from areas of high-brow and popular culture. Kracht’s artistic and literary inspirations are legion and range from Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Joseph Conrad, Erich Kästner and Jack London to New Wave musicians such as Devo and Joy Division and the Norwegian kitsch artist Odd Nerdrum.

Kracht’s most recent novel is Imperium, for which he received the  2012 Wilhelm Raabe Literaturpreis. The novel offers a  fictionalised account of the historical figure of August Engelhardt, who sets sail for the Bismarck Archipelago (now Papua New Guinea) to start a community of cocoivores – radical vegetarians who existed on a diet of coconuts. Written in the third-person, the narrator looks backwards and forwards in history, linking Engelhardt’s story to wider events and to other figures in twentieth-century history.In the words of the awarding jury, Imperium “[balanciert auf der] Grenze zwischen Komik und Schrecken […] mit großer Sicherheit und bildet so einen bedeutenden Knoten im Gewebe der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur”.