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Sibylle Berg

03.04.2020 – Beat Mazenauer

First her novel, “GRM.Brainfuck”, scooped the 2019 Swiss book award. Then she won Switzerland’s top literary prize, the Swiss Grand Prix Literature. Author Sibylle Berg has finally made it in her adopted home country. She is clearly delighted, as she explained in an interview: “What is nice is that, after 24 years, the public are starting to see me as I have long seen myself, that is, as a Swiss author”. Sibylle Berg was born in 1962 in Weimar. After emigrating to the West in 1984, the first thing she did was travel to Ascona to attend a course at the Scuola Teatro Dimitri theatre conservatory. She then studied the disparate subjects of oceanography and political science in Hamburg, before returning to Switzerland in the mid-1990s, settling there for good and eventually becoming a Swiss citizen. Her first work, “Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot” (A few people search for happiness and laugh themselves to death), was an instant hit, laying the foundation for an internationally acclaimed literary career that currently spans 15 novels and two dozen plays. Berg’s provocative style is one of the reasons for her success. She has been referred to as a “hellraiser of the theatre” and the “hate preacher of the single society”. Her latest novel, “GRM.Brainfuck” (see also Books: Is this life?), underscores this reputation but has a serious message too. It is an uncompromising piece of writing and a furious indictment of contemporary society. “GRM.Brainfuck” explores our near-future, where segregation between rich and poor is absolute and human endeavour has become worthless. It makes for extremely uncomfortable reading, but is a vision of what may happen one day.