Clemens J. Setz

Love in the Times of the Mahlstädter Child - Stories

Clemens J. Setz
Foto: Clemens J. Setz
© Max Zerrahn

Clemens J. Setz, born 1982, lives in Graz.

»As evil as Nabokov, as virtuosic as David Foster Wallace.« Welt am Sonntag

»One of the highest hopes of German literature.« FAZ

Prizes received for his work:

Heinrich von Kleist Prize 2020

Berliner Literaturpreis 2019

Merck-Kakehashi-Award 2018 (for Indigo)

Literaturpreis der Steiermark 2017

Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis 2015

Longlisted for the German Book Prize 2015 (for Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre)

Literaturpreis des Kulturkreises der deutschen Wirtschaft 2013

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2012 (for Indigo)

Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2011 (for Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes)

Literature Prize of the City of Bremen 2010

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2009 (for Die Frequenzen)

Ernst-Willner-Preis 2008 at the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Wettbewerb

Sold to

Arabic world rights (Al'Asreya), France (Actes Sud / Jacqueline Chambon), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Czech Republic (Fra), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Funtasy), Romania (Univers), Macedonia (Blesok)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Griot)

Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair 2011


»One of the highest hopes of German literature.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


A woman who has herself locked in a cage in her own kitchen; a man who lives all by himself in the innermost part of a distant planet; an aging poet in a crib who becomes the core of the collection in a literary archive.

And then there’s Lilly too who one day realizes »that little wings had grown on her shoulder blades: dirty rosy-coloured, vulnerable looking skin formations that itched like mosquito bites and which she could even move back and forth a little through her own will power.«

After his two prize-winning, critically acclaimed novels, Söhne und Planeten and Die Frequenzen, the Austrian author Clemens J. Setz is now presenting a collection of short stories. These eighteen tales are furnished with grotesque ideas and subtle horror, full of violent moments and tender gestures. In this short prose form as in his novels, Setz proves to be a sharp observer of human nature and an empathetic, almost loving portraitist of its idiosyncrasies.


»You almost feel like (…) kissing your own knee in delight.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Some might feel repulsion and wonder what on earth all of this is about. But literature doesn’t have to be about anything beyond literature. Its justification lies in what it is. Setz doesn’t tell his stories to shock: rather, he provides them with an immanent logic or an inner necessity and gives his characters psychological credibility.« Cicero

»He is the prodigy of German literature: radical, imperative, with a sound entirely different from his own generation. Of an apocalyptic desperation.« Die ZEIT

»This is someone daring a radical counter-attack to the charmingly constructed literature of writing workshops, breaking free from the literary row-houses while whistling ominous songs.« Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt

»Clemens J. Setz has given new life to Grazer modernism, with rather sinister, potentially even malicious and cruel characters which share their curious plasticity with figures from computer games, eerily poised and brittle at the same time. « Thomas Steinfeld, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»This is a big one, one, for whom reality has not at all been written down yet in all its bizarre, grotesque, realistic and simulating aspects. On the contrary – it has just started.« Neues Deutschland online

»This radicality of a nearly air-tightly packed desperation existed in literature last in the years before Setz was born. It was there in Beckett’s garbage cans and in the last stories and plays by the mature Max Frisch.« Iris Radisch, Die ZEIT

»Clemens J. Setz’s eighteen stories seem to make their appearance innocuously, in the garb of the everyday that everyone feels they know, and develop a brutality and viciousness which take the reader by surprise every time. Setz does something that is very rare in German literature. He is outspoken about bodies and sex in all its immediacy« Julia Encke, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»His collection of short stories fulfills the expectations with a drumbeat. Here is a writer to be witnessed who masters crafts of writing which one didn’t even know existed before.« Richard Kämmerlings, Die Welt

»Setz supplies dramatic personality profiles which can make your skin crawl.« Sächsische Zeitung / Magazin

Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2011 Laureate:

At age 29, Clemens J. Setz was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2011 for his unconventional collection of short stories Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes.
The jury stated: »The determining factors were Setz’ audacious composition, his idiosyncratic language and his consistent concept which leads to these equally original and uncanny stories. They get down to business with the disillusioned perspective on human kind that has long been accepted in the sciences but blissfully ignored in the arts. […] The award acknowledges a sinister and surprising prose experiment, for which a young writer had dared to gamble with the means of language.«


Clemens J. Setz reads from Love in the Time of the Mahlstädter Child:


Other publications

Der Trost runder Dinge/The Comfort of Round Things (2019)

Sold to:

Russia (Symposium), France (Actes Sud), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Greece (Gutenberg)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Griot)

Bot/Bot (2018)

Rights available

Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre/The Hour Between Woman and Guitar (2015)

Sold to:

Spanish world rights (Malpaso), France (Jacqueline Chambon), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Bulgaria (Paradox)

Indigo/Indigo (2012)

Sold to:

USA (W. W. Norton / Liveright), UK (Serpent's Tail), Chinese complex rights (China Times), France (Jacqueline Chambon), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Japan (Kokusho Kankokai), Czech Republic (Fra), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Funtasy), Croatia (Hena Com)