Lutz Seiler

Kruso - Novel

(German title: Kruso)
ca. 484 pages
Lutz Seiler
Foto: Lutz Seiler
© Heike Steinweg

Lutz Seiler was born in 1963 in Gera, Thuringia, and today lives in Wilhelmshorst near Berlin and Stockholm.

He underwent training as a mason and a carpenter and completed his studies in 1990. Since 1997, he has been the literary director and custodian of the Peter Huchel Museum. He has traveled to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and was writer in residence at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles and at the German Academy in Rome.

His many prizes include the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, the Bremen Prize for Literature, the Fontane Prize, and the Uwe-Johnson-Prize. For more information, please visit the author's website: https://lutzseiler.de

Prizes and Awards:
1999 Kranichstein Literature Prize
2000 Meran Poetry Prize
2000 Dresden Poetry Prize
2002 Anna Seghers Prize
2003 Ernst Meister Prize
2003 Villa Aurora grant, Los Angeles
2004 Bremen Literature Prize
2005 SWR Best List Prize
2007 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize
2009 Harald Gerlach grant, state of Thuringia
2010 Nomination for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize (for Die Zeitwaage)
2010 German Narrator Prize (for Die Zeitwaage)
2010 City of Neuruppin Fontane Prize (for Die Zeitwaage)
2011 Villa Massimo German Academy grant, Rome
2012 Christian Wagner Prize
2012 Rainer Malkowski Prize (shared)
2014 Mainz Poetic Lectureship
2014 Uwe Johnson Prize (for Kruso)
2014 German Book Prize (for Kruso)
2015 Marie Luise Kaschnitz Prize
2015 Heidelberg Poetic Lectureship, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
2017 Thuringia Literature Prize
2020 Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair (for Stern 111)
2020 Kakehashi Prize for Literature, Tokyo (for Kruso)

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Winner of the German Book Prize 2014

#1 on the Spiegel Bestseller List


»Kruso had been right. No one was lost. No one stays missing forever.«


After the accident, Edgar Bendler decides to step out of his own life. He becomes a dishwasher on Hiddensee, that legendary island which is said to lie outside of time and »beyond the headlines«.

And it is there, in the dishwashing station of The Hermit, a bar high above the sea, that Ed meets Alexander Krusowitsch – Kruso – and a difficult, yet tender, relationship begins. Kruso, master of ceremonies and godfather of the island, initiates Ed into the rituals of the seasonal workers and the rules that govern their nights, thereby conducting Ed toward his own sexual awakening. The secret heart of the confraternity is Kruso’s idea of utopia, which in just three nights promises to carry each and every one of the land’s (and life’s) shipwrecked souls to the Roots of Freedom. However, the events of the autumn of 1989 do not fail to shake the island. A struggle between life and death ensues – and a promise.

Part island adventure story and part story of an extraordinary friendship: Lutz Seiler’s first, long awaited novel draws a line from the summer of 1989 into the present. The exceptional investigations that form the basis of the novel attempt to follow the traces of those who went missing in their escape attempts across the Baltic Sea, and in so doing, leads us all the way to Copenhagen and to the catacombs of the Danish state police.

»The storm raged unimpeded across the slender isle, as if it were to be cleansed once more before the final decline.«

»There was no sign, no password. Just before midnight they would simply come into his room. They would stand there in the dark, no one would turn on the light, Viola would play the national anthem.«


»The German poet Lutz Seiler has brought all his art, linguistic ease, flair for dazzling images and master of what he describes as ‘the nervous systems of memory’ to this extraordinary debut novel […] Kruso is an exciting, expansive work of German literature; it may well prove one of the major novels of the 21st century.« Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

»Kruso [is] the first worthy equivalent to Thomas Mann’s Zauberberg in contemporary German literature.« Der Spiegel

»This novel on the historical summer of 1989 is a lighthouse, not an ivory tower.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Mr Seiler draws cleverly on the fiction of enchanted islands or refuges [...] Above all, he evokes the moods of Hiddensee with visionary power and precision. Although a sophisticated fable of liberty and its discontents, Kruso roots every idea in the salty, sandy landscapes [...]. An outstanding debut novel.« The Economist

»Seiler delivers a debut novel with which he manages to assert himself in the top ranks of this country’s authors.« Die Zeit

»Seiler’s novel Kruso shows what German literature can accomplish when it’s accomplished.« Welt am Sonntag

»A rare book that will persist.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»A sublime book that is far more than just the novel of the year.« Deutschlandradio Kultur

»Seiler delivers a debut novel with which he manages to assert himself in the top ranks of this country’s authors.« Die Zeit

»[Kruso is] the rare treasure of a great novel.« Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten

»This novel has a historical-philosophical dimension: it is a significant contemplation on different forms of freedom as well as a wonderfully poetic exaltation of a concrete historical event – a truly great book.« 3sat Kulturzeit

»Seiler’s novel is lyrical and powerful in its eloquence. Already he is to be counted among the great contemporary German literary figures.« WDR 5

»A multi-layered philosophical novel that poses a major question to us and our present: In what way is freedom possible?« Die Zeit

»Lutz Seiler’s writings trace back to Uwe Johnson’s poetry and reflect the German past, present and future beyond the surface of ›simple truths‹. [...] In Kruso Lutz Seiler visualises the hopes and restrictions of a whole country by means of one singular place, Hiddensee, and within a short time frame, June until November 1989.« from the statement of the Uwe-Johnson-Prize 2014 jury

»Readers might doubt whether Robinson Crusoe can work in a German setting — they might even feel affronted that it’s been attempted — but Seiler’s novel springs from his own experience in a way that underlines the universality of the tale.« Maggie Ferguson, Newsweek

»Kruso is ultimately an honest meditation on grief, the ways in which people lose, find, lose (and so the cycle continues) each other, rendered beautifully by Seiler’s vivid, unusual prose.« The Culture Trip


Video on the German Book Award for Kruso by Deutsche Welle (English) >>

Book Trailer for Kruso by Lutz Seiler (German)


Lutz Seiler reads from his novel Kruso (German)


Other publications

Stern 111/Star 111 (2020)

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English world rights (And Other Stories), Arabic world rights (Kalima), France (Verdier), Netherlands (Meridiaan), Denmark (Batzer), Sweden (Norstedts), Bulgaria (Black Flamingo), Greece (Patakis)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV), German Entire Radio Readings (rbb & NDR), German Book Club (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

im felderlatein/in field latin (2010)

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English world rights (Seagull), Italy (selection, Del Vecchio), Sweden (selection, Faethon)

Die Zeitwaage/The Time-Balance (2009)

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Catalan Rights (selection, Club Editor), Arabic world rights (Al'Asreya), France (Verdier), Italy (Del Vecchio Editore)

Turksib/Turksib (2008)

Rights available

Sonntags dachte ich an Gott/Sundays I Thought About God (2004)

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English world rights (And Other Stories), Italy (selection, Del Vecchio)

vierzig kilometer nacht/forty kilometres of night (2003)

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English world rights (And Other Stories)

pech & blende/pech & blende (2000)

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English world rights (And Other Stories)