An introduction to one of the most important writers to emerge from the GDR
In the last decade of the German Democratic Republic's existence, Christoph Hein emerged as one of that country's most important and prolific writers, ranking with Christa Wolfe, Heiner Müller, and Volker Braun as a leader of Eastern Europe's innovative literary community. Although the majority of Hein's work has yet to be translated into English, his fiction and drama have been exported around the world, and The Distant Lover, Hein's first work of fiction published in English, met with critical acclaim in the United States. In Understanding Christoph Hein, Phillip McKnight introduces English-speaking readers to the foremost chronicler of the German Democratic Republic's political, social, and psychological drama.
Drawing on extensive conversations with Hein, McKnight describes the writer's childhood, his selection as the recipient of the presitgious Heinrich Mann Prize in 1982, and his recuperation from a stroke suffered in 1992. McKnight notes that despite his political activism, Hein consciously discourages comparisons with Vaclav Havel and refuses entreaties to run for political office.
McKnight also offers critical readings of Hein's longer prose works—including The Tango Player, which was recently published in English—as well as Hein's plays, short stories, and essays.
Phillip S. McKnight is associate professor of German at the University of Kentucky and author of The Novels of Johann Karl Wezel: Satire, Realism, and Social Commentary in Late Eighteenth-Century Literature.