Cécile Wajsbrot
Cécile Wajsbrot was born in Paris in 1954. She studied literature and has worked as a French teacher at a secondary school, as an editor at Nouvelles Littéraires, and as a literary critic, primarily for Le Magazine Littéraire. Since 1982, she has published nine novels, five volumes of stories and two essays in France, most recently the novel "Mémorial" in 2005. Cécile Wajsbrot's argumentative essay "Pour la littérature" (2001) met with great acclaim in France; in it she expressed criticism of the predominance of form and the concept of écriture as propagated by the post-war generation, and expressly backed the narrated story, littérature. Parallel to her writing, Cécile Wajsbrot also works as a literary translator from English (incl. Virginia Woolf) and German (Gert Ledig, Stefan Heym) into French. Up until now, three of her novels have appeared in the Munich Liebeskind Verlag: Mann und Frau den Mond betrachtend, 2003, Im Schatten der Tage, 2004, and Der Verrat, 2006.

"Mann und Frau den Mond betrachtend" (original French title: Caspar-Friedrich-Strasse, 2002), the first novel by Cécile Wajsbrot to appear in German, is evidence of the author's frequent visits to Berlin. Its form is that of a formal speech by an East German lyricist at the dedication of Caspar-David-Friedrich-Straße in Berlin. He describes nine famous paintings by the master of Romanticism in his speech, but continually drifts off to his own biography and the city in whose ruins he grew up, to the country, whose division shaped his biography, and to his unhappy love for a West German woman. "Mann und Frau den Mond betrachtend" is a novel about the German past and a French woman's commentary on the city's current situation between ruins and a new beginning, and about the German "abysses", which - as Cécile Wajsbrot sees it - "do not open up in forgetting, but in an overpowering wealth of memories". The author's sensitive, cautious narrative art and her simple, penetrating language can be found again in the second novel to appear in German, "Im Schatten der Tage" (Nation par Barbès, 2001). It is the story of three young people in search of intimacy, who encounter each other in the Paris Metro. They would be all too happy to fill the emptiness of their own lives, but the incompatibility of their worlds means that they do not understand each other: the cheerful, somewhat superficial student of English Jason, the secretary Léna, who looks after her paraplegic mother and is caught in a tight corset of responsibility and control, and the Bulgarian woman Aniela, who wants to escape the hopeless lack of perspective in her home country and is living in Paris illegally, with no money, always afraid that she will be discovered at ticket or passport checks and expelled. Three parallel universes, between which – despite an apparent motion towards one another – there is no connection and no understanding. The book also expresses criticism of French immigration policy, formulated quietly but with acuteness and intensity. In "Der Verrat" (La trahison, 1997), the author's third book to appear in German so far, Cécile Wajsbrot finds clear words on a subject that has not been properly discussed among the French public: the collaboration of parts of French society with the National Socialists, the French people's shared guilt over the death of their Jewish compatriots, and the blanket of silence that continues to cover this theme to the present day. It is Cécile Wajsbrot's most personal book, telling in a poetic, atmospherically dense language of a young radio presenter who induces an old man to consider his past, the way that he looked away, former pretence and his suppressed guilt. It is also a book in which she takes up the story of her own family: Cécile Wajsbrot's grandmother succeeded in escaping the raid at the Paris stadium Vélodrome d'Hiver in July 1942, but her grandfather was arrested and died in Auschwitz.