Karl Rühmann © Franz Noser


Karl Rühmann [Switzerland]

Karl Rühmann, also known as Mladen Jandrlic, was born in 1959. He grew up in Yugoslavia before he moved to the USA in 1976. He studied German, Hispanic, and general literature in Zagreb and Münster. He taught German and history for several years at the Vocational and Continuing Education Center in Buchs, as well as in Skanderborg, Denmark. He then worked as an editor and license manager for various publishing houses. Since 2006, he has been a freelance author of novels, children’s books, and radio plays, and also a literary translator. He is fluent in five languages. His debut novel, »Glasmurmeln, ziegelrot« (2018; tr: Glass Marbles, Brick Red), tells the story of a child who, during the Cold War in an Eastern European country, is subjected to the exclusion of his classmates and the harassment of the state authorities. In order to endure this situation, he withdraws into an imaginative, concise language, understood only by himself and his mother, and thus gains the security to cope with the absurdities of reality. The subsequent epistolary novel, »Der Held« (2020: tr: The Hero), is about two soldiers who were front-line opponents in the Bosnian War and are now in a Dutch prison awaiting sentencing by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Walking in the prison yard, they become friends in the face of a new, common enemy. While Modoran is released and returns to his village a hero, Colonel Bartok remains imprisoned. However, their dialogue continues in an exchange of letters. »The war hero Modoran is left with only a shell: the word ›hero‹. He can’t get rid of it until he denies himself. He does not manage what Rühmann misses in other conflicts: ›A hero is one who faces the truth‹« (»Tagblatt«).

Most recently, Rühmann published the novel »Die Wahrheit, vielleicht« (2022; tr: The Truth, Maybe). It tells the story of interrogator Felipe ten Holt, who works in counterterrorism for the Secret Service. Over time, he has developed the ability to distinguish between truth and deception in other people’s statements. He is driven by an obsessive love of truth. Through different types of writing, three levels of the narrative are set apart from each other: the protagonist’s childhood and adolescence, his career as an interrogator, in which he made a momentous mistake, so that he now works as an interpreter. In this activity he retreats to the role of mediator but is unable to regain the control and orientation he has lost. A portrait of a woman in the Kunsthaus Zürich becomes his anchor point, which he desperately seeks.

Karl Rühmann was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize and has received several awards for his work. He lives as a freelance author, translator, and editor in Zurich, where he teaches the courses Literary Writing and Screenwriting at the Story Academy of the SAL.





Glasmurmeln. Ziegelrot

rüffer & rub

Zürich, 2018


Der Held

rüffer & rub

Zürich, 2020


Die Wahrheit, vielleicht

rüffer & rub

Zürich, 2022