I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t grown up as I did … a ‘child of the street’ you could say, if you wanted to be melodramatic about it. That’s where I learnt my writing style. My friends down the pub know me as a storyteller.
– Clemens Meyer
Clemens Meyer is a leading light among young German writers. He is a born storyteller. Born in 1977 in what was then East Germany, his studies at the German Literature Institute, Leipzig, were interrupted by a spell in a youth detention centre. He has worked as a security guard, forklift driver and construction worker.
He won a number of prizes for his first novel Als wir träumten (While We Were Dreaming) published in 2006, in which a group of friends grow up and go off the rails in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Die Nacht, die Lichter (All the Lights) was his second book. It won the prestigious Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2008. Since then he has published his third book, Gewalten (Acts of Violence), a diary of 2009 in eleven stories.
All the Lights – Winner of the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2008
- Translated by Katy Derbyshire.
- Read more about All the Lights in the book section.
- ‘Of Dogs and Horses’, Katy Derbyshire’s translation of a story from the collection, was published in The Guardian in June 2009.
- Read an early interview with Clemens Meyer in English at signandsight.com.
- You can read Stuart Evers’ incisive, sizzling introduction on Readux.
- Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
Praise for Clemens Meyer
- ‘Take the bare prose of Raymond Carver, apply the bleak outlook of Michel Houellebecq, place characters from an Irvine Welsh book on German streets, and you have something close to this collection of 15 short stories… His tales have an evanescent, impressionistic quality… Meyer thrills and rewards.’ Alex Rayner, The Guardian
- ‘Stories of brilliance.’ Chris Power, in ‘2011’s Best Short Stories’ piece in The Guardian
- ‘A bold experiment that augurs well for this talented young writer.’ The Herald (Scotland)
- ‘A little like Raymond Carver, fifteen stories, laconic yet full of longing, from the young star of German fiction.’ GQ
- ‘He pulls few punches in the telling of his stories, but he does so with acuity, tenderness and complete originality.’ Rob Burdock, Christmas Gifts Guide, The Booktrust
- ‘Meyer’s minimalist style (rendered through Derbyshire’s deft translation) enables him to cram words with significance, changing the mood in a clause and sketching a backstory in a sentence. He can evoke extremely powerful and often surprising responses in the reader.’ A Year of Reading the World blog
- ‘What Meyer manages to achieve leaves you speechless. These stories glow in the world’s darkness.’ Die Welt
- ‘Clemens Meyer writes the best crafted, toughest and most heart-rending stories in Germany.’ Spiegel
- ‘Meyer tells us about people who normally are not ‘literary subject matter’ […] Respect to him. He’s the real deal. We need storytellers like him.’ Die Zeit
- ‘Powerfully cinematic’ Neue Zürcher Zeitung
- ‘… never corny, always compassionate, and varying the bassline apparently at will – it is simply astounding. Does the book shine? Yes, and how!’ Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
- ‘Meyer raises the American short story to perfection in his unsentimental, tight scenes. Stylistically he can be compared to masters of the genre such as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver.’ Ulf Heise, Chemnitz Freie Presse
- ‘Clemens Meyer writes the best crafted, toughest and most heart-rending stories of anyone in Germany.’Spiegel
- ‘Clemens Meyer places people from the edge of society in the centre of his stories. An old widower prepares for his death in a dying east German village; a boxer who is used to losing won’t profit from a win; and a jobless man whose wife left him years ago tries to save his life at the races. As in his highly praised first novel, the characters in Meyer’s short stories have lost out in life – some through the fall of the Berlin Wall, some through petty criminality and drug addiction. […] The Leipzig author Meyer gets stuck into his stories. He approaches his characters with a clear, curious and almost tender eye. He knows what he is writing about: the people, the milieux and their moods’ Spiegel
- ‘In All the Lights Meyer practises his favourite form: the short story. His storytelling has the spare, masterly and atmospheric qualities of Hemingway in the Nick Adams Stories or Richard Ford in Rock Springs.’ Gerrit Bartels, Der Tagesspiegel
- ‘In Meyer’s quiet language this book offers a deep insight into people’s hearts.’ Playboy