Dorothee Elmiger was born in 1985 in Wetzikon and grew up in Appenzell, spending an exchange year in New Hampshire. She graduated from the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel/Bienne, with a semester at the German Creative Writing Program Leipzig, and studied Political Sciences, Philosophy and History in Zurich, Berlin and Lucerne. In 2010 she won the Kelag Prize for an extract from her first novel, Einladung an die Waghalsigen (translated by Katy Derbyshire as Invitation to the Bold of Heart), which was also awarded the Aspekte Literature Prize and the Rauris Literature Prize and nominated for the Swiss Book Prize. Her second novel, Schlafgänger (translated by Megan Ewing as Shift Sleepers) was also nominated for the Swiss Book Prize, won the Hermann Hesse Award (Förderpreis) and a Swiss Literature Award, and was performed in a stage adaptation at the Theater Basel. Subsequently she has received several other prestigious prizes.
Dorothee Elmiger is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary Swiss writers, noted for her subtle registration and evocation of social and political change and her stylistic experimentation.