© Hartwig klappert

Michael Fehr  [ Switzerland ]

Michael Fehr was born in 1982 and grew up in Bern. He studied at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel and at the Bern University of the Arts. In 2013, he made his début with »Kurz vor der Erlösung: Siebzehn Sätze« (tr: Close to Salvation: Seventeen Sentences), a volume that avoids generic categorization. By eschewing punctuation and grammatical rules, Fehr presents his storytelling as a performance, as the written version of the original form of oral literary traditions. Due to his restricted eyesight, his texts are created through dictation with the help of recording software; thus, one focus of his work lies in playing with sounds and meanings, in the plasticity of language, and in the process of searching for a word or expression. A choir of multiple voices emerges in a chapter recounting a modern Christmas story; the order of the chapters is, however, nonlinear. Fehr follows in an archaic narrative tradition that strives to return to the oral sources of literature and, in doing so, consciously utilizes the textures of breath, voice, and musicality. Within the context of the 2014 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, Fehr presented »Simeliberg« (2015, tr: Simeli Mountain) which received the Kelag Prize. The text reads »as if Kafka and Beckett had concocted a crime story together« (Denis Scheck). Here, Fehr continues his experiments with forms of language, writing from a world in which the reliability of linguistic codes has been lost. Cumbersome officialese is countered by numerous oral expressions and neologisms. »Simeliberg«, which is simultaneously a portrayal of Switzerland, a crime story, and sound art, tells of the quirky farmer Schwarz, the search for his missing wife, and the eccentric people who live in an inhospitable place where mysterious things happen. In his most recent volume »Glanz und Schatten« (2017, tr: Shine and Shadow), Fehr turns to the struggle between humans, animals, places, and things. Fehr incorporates amusing dialogue and describes events such as the dismemberment of a partridge or a man fighting against a swarm of mosquitos using beautiful and sometimes monstrous imagery that he dissects, mixes up, and puts together anew.

Fehr is a co-founder of »Babelsprech«, a project for the international promotion of young poets that he also directed until 2015. Since 2013, he has also sat on the jury for the Treibhaus literary competition. From 2015 to 2016, he was a member of the in-house author collective at the Lucerne Theater. He has won numerous prizes, including the 2018 Swiss Literature Prize for »Glanz und Schatten«, and has received grants from the Villa Aurora in the USA (2016), the Sangam House in India (2017), and the Landis & Gyr Stiftung in London (2018/2019). The author lives in Bern.




Kurz vor der Erlösung

Der gesunde Menschenversand

Luzern, 2013



Der gesunde Menschenversand

Luzern, 2015


Glanz und Schatten

Der gesunde Menschenversand

Luzern, 2017