A work of great consistency, of great clarity and power, this is how the Rowohlt Verlag honors its author F.C. Delius. He died in Berlin at the age of 79. He was one of the great chroniclers of the 20th century and, as the founder of a publishing house, discovered well-known authors.
The writer Friedrich Christian Delius is dead. He died in Berlin at the beginning of the week at the age of 79, according to the Rowohlt publishing house. The publisher recognized him as an "outstanding chronicler" of his time and one of the most important authors of contemporary German literature. Delius wrote works such as "The Sunday on which I became world champion" or, most recently, the volume of stories "The Seven Languages of Silence", published in 2021. Delius has received many awards, including the Georg Büchner Prize in 2011.
His always carefully researched titles include a trilogy on the German Autumn of 1977, in which Delius dealt with the armed struggle of the left-wing terrorist RAF and the assassination of employer president Hanns Martin Schleyer. Or the novel "My Year as a Murderer", which deals with the suppression of Nazi crimes in post-war Germany.
In 2019 his novel "If the Chinese buy Rügen, then think of me" was published. It's about a self-confident journalist who is fired two years before retirement - the entertaining, biting portrait of a freethinker and flâneur. The story "Die Pears von Ribbeck" (1991) from the time of German unity stands out.
Rome played an important role for F.C. Delius, as he was often shortened. He was born there on February 13, 1943, the son of a Westphalian curate and a kindergarten teacher. He grew up in Hesse, lived in Berlin and later found his second wife back in Rome. He was also a fellow at Villa Massimo. There he worked on the documentary satire "Unsere Siemens-Welt".
Delius has been active for more than six decades, his works have been translated into more than 20 languages, he also took part in the legendary Gruppe 47 meetings. At the age of 18 he published his first poems. Its discoverer was the publisher Klaus Wagenbach. He brought the literary scholar to his legendary collective publishing house as an editor in 1970. Delius was close to the 1968 movement, but did not want to be harnessed.
Because of the attitude towards the RAF, Wagenbach broke up. In 1973, Delius and friends founded the Rotbuch Verlag, which is also managed jointly. He became successful with his flair for authors who were still unknown at the time, such as Heiner Müller, Thomas Brasch, Thea Dorn and Herta Müller. He helped to make authors from the GDR known in the West - a mediator between East and West, who also smuggled works across the border. He has been a freelance writer since 1978.
Delius once explained his work like this: "I try to answer questions that I have about certain aspects of our present or historical events by sending characters off, on expeditions, so to speak. I try to get behind headlines, formulas and prejudices, too perceptions that are as differentiated as possible through the most subjective view possible."
Delius has published more than 35 books. Rowohlt had already started a new edition of the complete works for his 70th birthday. On his death, the publisher praised his work as "of great consistency, great clarity and power". For Rowohlt Berlin publisher Gunnar Schmidt, who was also his editor, he was an author with curiosity about the world - with imagination, intuition and knowledge of human nature. "His voice will be missed."
Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth emphasized that German history is reflected in Delius' work. "His works are characterized by intensive language power and a clear attitude: against hard-heartedness and indifference, against opportunism and conformism." His death is a great loss for German and European literature. "We will miss him very much, his works will occupy us for a long time."