Biography

Poet, novelist and essayist Lutz Seiler was born in Gera, Thuringia, in 1963 and today lives in Wilhelmshorst, near Berlin, and in Stockholm. After an apprenticeship in construction, he worked as a carpenter and bricklayer. Since 1997, he has been the literary director and custodian of the Peter Huchel Haus. His writing has won many prizes, including the Leipzig Book Fair Prize, the Ingeborg Bachmann and the German Book Prize, and been translated into twenty-five languages. His prize-winning second novel Star 111, his volume of non-fiction In Case of Loss and the poetry collection Pitch & Glint are published in 2023 in English by And Other Stories. Some of his stories, poems and essays have appeared in English in journals and magazines including Granta, Modern Poetry in Translation, PN Review, Poetry, PROTOTYPE, the New Statesman, Shearsman, Stand, the TLS and The White Review.

Reviews

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘We see the “fascination of the factual”, but also the struggle to find a voice and shape the urgent material of reality. Many of the essays turn on origins and how to narrate history, venturing back to childhood, conscription, early poems, places of personal significance and some of the author’s great literary predecessors and mentors, including Peter Huchel, Jürgen Becker and Ernst Meister.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘Served by a trio of stellar translators, And Other Stories has done a great service bringing these three works into English. They will allow a new audience to enter Lutz Seiler’s haunted world and admire his singular voice in its different refractions.’

Philip Terry
The Guardian

‘Meticulously translated from German, these poems create an inimitable sound world where everything is muted as if beneath a blanket of snow, whispering, sizzling, crackling.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘This is a new kind of eco-poetry, born out of the last days of the GDR, with broken syntax, truncated rhythms, odd juxtapositions, neologisms, ampersands and a rejection of standard capitalization.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘Served by a trio of stellar translators, And Other Stories has done a great service bringing these three works into English. They will allow a new audience to enter Lutz Seiler’s haunted world and admire his singular voice in its different refractions.’

Ángel Gurría-Quintana
Financial Times, Best Books of 2023

‘A rich, vivid tale about new beginnings and fractured utopias.’

Stuart Walton
The Hong Kong Review of Books

‘The fragmentary style of Star 111 recalls much of the later work of Grass [...] The great ingenuity of Seiler’s narrative lies in the displacement that it effects between Carl’s exploits and those of his distant parents, from whom he receives regular letters written in a floridly formal style.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘The author’s shimmering, ironic and musical prose – impeccably translated by Tess Lewis – captures a moment both archaic and profoundly real. Utopian and matter-of-fact, it is both timeless and obsessed with the minutiae of its time.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘Served by a trio of stellar translators, And Other Stories has done a great service bringing these three works into English. They will allow a new audience to enter Lutz Seiler’s haunted world and admire his singular voice in its different refractions.’

Rishi Dastidar
The Guardian, Best poetry books of 2023

‘Lutz Seiler’s Pitch & Glint … uses broken and glitchy language to reflect the fractures of East German history… These poems, and their English translation by Stefan Tobler, are a rare achievement.’

Harry Josephine Giles, Poetry Book Society's Translation Choice selector

‘Recording this music requires such fluid syntax, allowing sentences to slip over and under each other to make new meanings. The force of this music made me reconsider the values of the broad field of ecological poetry.’

Chris McCabe, Librarian of the National Poetry Library, UK

‘Lutz Seiler began as a bricklayer and ended up building poems. “Why I started to read and write, I have no idea,” he says, but we should be glad. Pitch & Glint created a storm when it was published in its original German. Finally these poems are translated into English by Stefan Tobler.’  

Evelyn Schlag
PN Review

‘The Georg Büchner Prize, the most prestigious prize in German literature, has been awarded to a magician of poetic language. [...] A true conjuror, he has rightly joined the company of his great countryman Wolfgang Hilbig, that other bulwark of German poetry and prose.’

Jack Barron
The Arts Desk

‘A seminal work of German verse translated into radiant English for the first time [...] Like the uranium that underlaid Seiler's childhood, Pitch & Glint burns with an unstable power.’

Patrick Wright

‘If this book were a building, it would surely be a makeshift shack of some kind.  A shelter for forgotten objects but also a workshop in which wheels are allowed to turn without always having to touch the ground. The views from the window keep changing. No sooner have you glimpsed old tank roads running past dunes in Fischland by the Baltic, than you’re somehow looking out from a hotel room in Los Angeles, or gazing over a lawn, which at first lies outside a proscribed poet’s house in a remote forest, and is then transported to a cultural centre in Rome. There’s a village too, still in the GDR, where everyone is tired thanks to the Cold War decision to convert it into a vast uranium mine. This is an exceptional and absorbing book, in which Lutz Seiler successfully recovers and also recreates the narrative of our times.’  

Will Ashon

‘There aren’t many books that can be cited as the missing link between Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries and Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, and still fewer that could live up to the comparison, but Lutz Seiler (with impeccable assistance from Tess Lewis) makes it look easy. Star 111 is a brilliant, immersive, sometimes funny, slyly moving book with a main character who walks through the new reality he finds himself in like an astronaut exploring alone beneath a strange, harsh, beautiful sun. A stellar achievement.’

Michael Hofmann
TLS, International Books of the Year

Pitch & Glint resists description but compels shock, admiration and envy. It has something of the amphibrachic chant of early Celan, jolie-laide language, lower case, ampersands, a harsh and physical sampling of a childhood in a working landscape (the uranium mines) in the last years of the GDR.’

Patrick McGuinness

‘Seiler's poems are immersive, unpredictable journeys into a past that is both irrecoverably lost and hauntingly present. They are at once soundscapes and dream-narratives, their language propulsive and furious and broken.’  

Alex Niven

‘Pitch & Glint unfurls against the backdrop of late-twentieth-century East Germany, a landscape strewn with spoilheaps, disappeared villages, "snow, oil and phlegm". Wandering over this uncertain terrain, Seiler meditates hauntingly on the disembodied lives emerging from its midst – and Tobler's stark, elegant translations do a fine job of capturing the essential interplay of muscularity and vaporousness at its heart. This is an exquisite, humane, deliciously shadowy verse music – a real-world Stalker with line-breaks. ’  

Joshua Weiner
POETRY magazine

‘Seiler has effectively rewired the lyric for the twenty-first century.’

Roland Bates, Kirkdale Books

‘Drawing on a history at once recent and ever more distant, Seiler's dazzling novel recounts just what must be lost for an artist to be made.’    

Michael Krüger

Pitch & Glint was an event, because all of us who still believe poetry can do something, felt that something was being given voice by this poet, something that would otherwise have been hopelessly lost.’

Angelika Overath
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

‘Epoch-making.’

Ursula Krechel
Der Tagesspiegel

‘Seiler's poems are original. They have body and a rhythm. They breathe dust and dirt, the desolation in minds and homes, the collapse and change, but their form is so strong that something new arises.’

Helmut Böttiger
Frankfurter Rundschau

‘Here the contemporary appears with archaic force.’

Lothar Müller
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Seiler is not aiming at reportage, not a documentary recording of places and landscapes. He is after the images with which they are internalised: how they get into people's bones. [...] Distrustful of fixed rhyming schemes, he throws his lines like garlands over the sentence structures, playing with internal rhyme and alliteration, closer to Dylan Thomas than Peter Huchel. This slim, wonderful book is like a seashell: a part of Germany is enclosed in it, in a rush of sound.’

Martin Ahrends
Die Zeit

‘Seiler's art is an inbetween one. Pitch & Glint remains a secret until you find a way in, reading it as an evocation and as a challenge to move in echoing sounds.’


More Praise for Lutz Seiler's Poetry

‘Seiler has masterful command of a subtle style, both skittish and firm in its diction and movement, tense and tensile in its branching extensions and jittery vertiginous drops. One could call it elliptical, but it’s more a kind of binocular vision, with one lens ground for cosmic focus and the other for a microscope. The voicing of such vision shifts from ecstatic to abject; the idiom is constantly sliding, smearing, merging to connect phenomena and feeling in work that opens a new approach in the ecological awareness currently driving poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Seiler has effectively rewired the lyric for the twenty-first century, tuning the dial of the poetic to its lower frequencies, where the signal can pass through walls.’ Joshua Weiner, Poetry magazine

Sibylle Cramer
Süddeutsche Zeitung

‘It is never about reconstructing. Memory does not bring back what was forgotten. Indeed, the person who remembers doesn't even know for sure that what is remembered ever existed. . . Seiler's inimitable style as a storyteller, the wilful waywardness and weight of what he has to say, the intensity (and personal tact) of his engagement with the landscapes of others' poetries and lives all make these essays a lively portrait of the writer surrounded by his library. Seiler sets standards for reflection in art today. At the same time, he gives us a sense of the pagan-sacramental importance of objects in poetry.’

Christine Lecerf
Le Monde des livres

It took Lutz Seiler, born in East Germany, thirty years to give to the moment [of the Fall of the Berlin Wall] the full richness of fertile and ambiguous human experience. With its ample narrative and powerful imagination, Star 111 is the “Wenderoman” par excellence, the great novel of the “turn”, as German reunification is called.’

Frédérique Fanchette
Libération

‘The Berlin of Star 111 wakes a longing for a city like no other. You want to linger there in the squatted Assel bar where workers, hookers and departing Soviet soldiers cross paths with anarchists full of ideas.’

Cécile Dutheil de la Rochère
AOC

‘The presence of objects have is no doubt one of the most extraordinary things about Star 111. Everything is unique, everything has a price, everything is respected because it is the fruit of work or of making. Nothing is thrown away, everything kept. What if the objects have a soul? Read Star 111 (the title is the name of an East German transistor radio) and understand the real value of an object.’

Denis Scheck
SWR lesenswert

‘Lutz Seiler reaches the level of a Thomas Pynchon here. […] This is atmospherically rich, true world literature. World literature is, after all, that which lets me see the world with different eyes, which shows me a part of the world I have not seen before. And this is what Seiler manages to do in Star 111.’

Ijoma Mangold
Die Zeit

Star 111 reveals the fiery nucleus of everything political, its dual nature: the unity of poetic rapture and the mysticism of the revolution. […] Lutz Seiler has the ability to describe the ridiculous, overheated and even the unconscionable of that political romanticism without having to denounce the original impulse. That’s what makes Star 111 great literature.’

Paul Jandl
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Star 111 is a novel full of hard-hitting, deeply moving psychology, full of scenes in which people shake the foundations of a reality that is in the process of creating new laws for itself.’

Thomas Steinfeld
Süddeutsche Zeitung

‘The [goat in the novel], the reader understands, knows neither longing nor nostalgia. The fact that the novel shares, in this regard, the view of a goat, is its last and biggest virtue.’

Jan Wiele
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

For the second time now Lutz Seiler has achieved something rather extraordinary: to talk about how one actually leads a poetic existence, a matter that is as euphoric as it is cruel, in a novel that is “accessible” in the best sense of the word.’

Jona Nietfeld
Der Tagesspiegel

‘Lutz Seiler talks about a city and a time that seemed to have been exhausted in fiction. But he creates a new fascination.’

Anja Maier
die tageszeitung

‘It has been a long time since anyone has talked about those foggy years, glossed over with garish colours by other writers scores of times, more movingly than Lutz Seiler.’


Der Spiegel

‘Seiler tells a story of freedom in a poetically-precise style.’

Helmut Böttiger
Deutschlandfunk Kultur

‘This is much more than a historical novel. It condenses an era and invokes the great panoramas of consciousness of modernity in a highly independent way.’


Bayerischer Rundfunk

‘This unexpected novel about post-reunification from the partially decayed, far from gentrified Berlin convinces with its unique atmospheric density, its gentle irony and the devotion to the matter at hand.’

Katja Weise
NDR Kultur

‘With Star 111, Lutz Seiler presents a great novel that talks enchantingly about departures and downfalls, about social utopias and societal realities, about humiliation and pride. Fascinating.’

Roland Gutsch
Nordkurier

‘What distinguishes it from the many Berlin-Reunification-books is that there is not a trace of caricature, no manipulative narrative, but still captivating entertainment.’


Praise for Lutz Seiler's Pitch and Glint ‘Pitch & Glint resists description but compels shock, admiration and envy. It has something of the amphibrachic chant of early Celan, jolie-laide language, lower case, ampersands, a harsh and physical sampling of a childhood in a working landscape (the uranium mines) in the last years of the GDR.’ Michael Hofmann ‘Pitch & Glint was an event, because all of us who still believe poetry can do something, felt that something was being given voice by this poet, something that would otherwise have been hopelessly lost.’ Michael Krüger ‘Epoch-making.’ Angelika Overath, Neue Zürcher Zeitung ‘Seiler's poems are original. They have body and a rhythm. They breathe dust and dirt, the desolation in minds and homes, the collapse and change, but their form is so strong that something new arises.’ Ursula Krechel, Der Tagesspiegel ‘Here the contemporary appears with archaic force.’ Helmut Böttiger, Frankfurter Rundschau ‘Seiler is not aiming at reportage, not a documentary recording of places and landscapes. He is after the images with which they are internalised: how they get into people's bones. [...] Distrustful of fixed rhyming schemes, he throws his lines like garlands over the sentence structures, playing with internal rhyme and alliteration, closer to Dylan Thomas than Peter Huchel. This slim, wonderful book is like a seashell: a part of Germany is enclosed in it, in a rush of sound.’ Lothar Müller, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ‘Seiler's art is an inbetween one. Pitch & Glint remains a secret until you find a way in, reading it as an evocation and as a challenge to move in echoing sounds.’ Martin Ahrends, Die Zeit

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