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Robert Menasse

Biography

Robert Menasse (b. 1954) is an Austrian writer and essayist. He studied German philology, philosophy, and political science in Salzburg, Messina, and Vienna, where he lives today. Menasse worked for six years at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. In that period, he also gave talks on the philosophical and aesthetic theories of Hegel, Lukács, Benjamin, and Adorno. Since his return from Brazil in 1988, Menasse has worked as a translator from the Portuguese and written essays on literature and cultural criticism.

Menasse debuted in 1988 with the novel Sinnliche Gewißheit ('Sense-Certainty'; Suhrkamp), which tells the story of a bar called Esperança, a meeting place in the vibrant city of São Paulo. This book is the first volume in a trilogy, followed by Selige Zeiten, brüchige Welt ('Blessed Times, Breakable World', Suhrkamp, 1991) and Schubumkehr ('Thrust Reversal', Suhrkamp, 1995).

In 2012 Menasse published the book-length essay Der Europäische Landbote (Paul Zsolnay Verlag), his plea for a ‘post-national' European democracy. The book was awarded the Prix du Livre Européen in 2015 for best essay. The English translation, Enraged Citizens, European Peace and Democratic Deficits: Or Why the Democracy Given to Us Must Become One We Fight For will be published in May 2016.

Menasse's most recent book is Heimat ist die schönste Utopie ('Homeland is the most beautiful Utopia'; Suhrkamp, 2014). He has received many awards for his work, including the Friedrich-Hölderin-Preis. In 2006, he was made a Knight in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Many of his works have been published in translation, in Dutch (by De Arbeiderspers), French, and other languages.

Robert Menasse spent several weeks as a writer in residence at Passa Porta once before, in 2010. He will be our guest again in June 2016, when he will put the finishing touches to the manuscript he started working on during that earlier visit to Brussels. 

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