Hein, Christoph


Christoph Hein was born in Heinzendorf, Silesia (now Poland), in 1944. After the war his family moved to Bad Düben, near Leipzig. After being refused entrance to high school because his father was a Protestant pastor, in 1958 he enrolled in a boarding school in West Berlin. After the Wall was built in August 1961, however, this was no longer an option, and he took nightschool classes for three years to earn his high school diploma. Hein then undertook university studies in philosophy and logic in Leipzig and Berlin from 1967 to 1971. After completing his studies, he worked as dramatic advisor under the guidance of Benno Besson at Berlin’s Volksbühne, where he was the in-house playwright from 1974 to 1979, when he left the theater to begin his career as a literary author.


One of Hein’s first big successes, in both East and West Germany, was his 1982 novella Der fremde Freund, and, over the course of the 1980s, he emerged as one of East Germany’s most important and prolific writers. He was one of the speakers at the historic demonstration for democracy and reforms on November 4, 1989 in East Berlin. After the Wall came down, he wrote numerous essays reflecting on his role as an intellectual in society and, from 1998 to 2000, he served as the first president of the pan-German PEN Center.


Hein, one of the most widely read contemporary German authors, has received many literary awards, including the international Stefan Heym Award (2013), the Uwe Johnson Prize (2012) and the Erich Fried Prize (1990). His work has been translated into 35 languages, and several of his books have been published in the USA: Landnahme (Settlement, 2008, Metropolitan Books), Willenbrock (2003, Metropolitan Books), Der Tangospieler (The Tango Player, 1992, Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Der fremde Freund (The Distant Lover, Pantheon, 1989).


Both Der Tangospieler and Willenbrock were made into films, and Christoph Hein has a short cameo appearance in the 1990 film featuring the cabaret of Mensching and Wenzel, Letztes aus der DaDaeR (dir. Jörg Foth). Since 2009, he has collaborated with singer and songwriter Hans-Eckardt Wenzel on two recordings: Das erste Buch Homers–Korrekturen (The First Book of Homer: Corrections, audio book, 2013) and Masken–Wenzel singt Christoph Hein (Masks–Wenzel Sings Christoph Hein, CD, 2009). Hein lives in Berlin.

Bibliography & More:

2024       Unterm Staub der Zeit (Underneath the Dust of Time)

2021       Guldenberg

2019       Gegenlauschangriff (Counter Eavesdropping)

2019       Verwirrnis (Befuddlement)

2018       Trutz

2016       Glückskind mit Vater (Portrait of a Son with Father)

2013       Vor der Zeit – Korrekturen (Ahead of Time: Corrections

2011       Weiskerns Nachlass (Weiskern’s Estate)

2008       Frau Paula Trousseau (Mrs. Paula Trousseau)

2005       Mama ist gegangen (Mom Left Us)

2005       In seiner frühen Kindheit ein Garten (In His Early Childhood, a Garden)

2004       Landnahme (Settlement: A Novel)

2000       Willenbrock (Willenbrock: A Novel)

1997       Von allem Anfang an (Right from the Beginning)

1993       Das Napoleon-Spiel (Napoleon Game)

1989       Der Tangospieler (The Tango Player)

1987       Das Wildpferd unterm Kachelofen (The Wild Horse Under the Stove)

1985       Horns Ende (Horn’s Final Day)

1982       Der fremde Freund (The Distant Lover)


2018 Familie Brasch (The Brasch Family, self)
2005 Willenbrock (based on his novel)
1990 Der Ritter der Tafelrunde (Knights of the Round Table, TV, script)
1990 Tangospieler (The Tango Player, based on his novella)
1990 Letztes aus der DaDaeR (Latest from the Da-Da-R, actor)
1988 Passage (TV, based on his novel)
1981 Experimente (Experiments, scripts)


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