Bora Ćosić [Serbia/ Croatia/ Germany]


© Hartwig Klappert

© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2017


Die Rolle meiner Familie in der Weltrevolution

Rowohlt Berlin

Reinbek, 1994

[Ü: Mirjana u. Klaus Wittmann]

Bel tempo

Rowohlt Berlin

Berlin, 1998

[Ü: Irena Vrkljan u. Benno Meyer-Wehlack]

Die Reise nach Alaska


Frankfurt a. M., 2007

[Ü: Katharina Wolf-Grießhaber]


Schöffling & Co

Frankfurt a. M., 2015

[Ü: Brigitte Döbert]

Konsul in Belgrad


Wien, 2016

[Ü: Katharina Wolf-Grießhaber]


Bora Ćosić was born in Zagreb in 1932. He moved to Belgrade in 1937 and studied philosophy. In the 1950s he worked as an editor and as a translator from Russian. His first novel »Kuca lopova« (1956; tr. The house of thieves), a surrealistic analysis of Yugoslavia – put him straight on the »black list«. The stage play of his novel »Uloga moje porodice u svetskoj revoluciji« (1969; tr. The role my family played in the world revolution) was banned from publication for many years. In protest against the Serbian regime, Ćosić left Belgrade in 1992 and resettled in the Istrian city of Rovinj. During his exile in Croatia, he wrote »Tagebuch eines Heimatlosen« (1993; tr. Diary of a stateless man). A scholarship from the DAAD brought him to Berlin in 1995, and he now spends his time between the German capital and Rovinj.

Bora Ćosić has written over thirty books, which have been translated into many European languages, including German, English, French and Hungarian. His satirical and polemic family chronicle »The role my family played in the world revolution«, set in the time of German occupation until the establishment of the Tito regime and narrated from the seemingly naïve perspective of the childish first person narrator, became a cult book in Serbia. Ćosić implicitly makes use of the structural principle used in the »The Tin Drum« while his playful approach to Günter Grass and other role models such as Krleža, Musil, Dostoyevsky, Hamsun or Proust is, by comparison, in other cases programmatic. This is indicated by titles such as »Musils Notizbuch« (tr. Musil’s notebook), »Ein zweites Treffen in Telgte« (tr. A Second encounter in Telgte) or the fictitious autobiography of »Miroslav Krleža« (1998). The critic Karl-Markus Gauss noted: the »montage of found material is [Ćosić’s] preferred aesthetic principle«. As such, the wheelchair-bound character Suarda in the monologue novel »Bel tempo« (1982) is based on his grandmother, immortalized in »The role my family played in the world revolution«. After the death of a friend, Ćosić also started writing poems and, in 2005, the collection »Irenas Zimmer« (tr. Irena’s room) was released. »Tutori« (1978; tr. Tutors; published in German in 2015), a family chronicle set in Slavonia (present-day Croatia), received much critical acclaim for its complex narrative style. Translated into German in 2016, Ćosić’s autobiographically influenced work »Consul u Beogradu« (2008; tr. Consul in Belgrade) is a portrait of the city and its inhabitants from the time Ćosić moved there with his parents in 1937 to the 1990s, when he left Belgrade due to rising nationalism. This late work also examines the influence of Belgrade on his life and work.

Bora Ćosić is a recipient of the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding in 2002, the Albatross Literature Prize in 2008 and Stefan Heym Prize in 2011.