Günter Kunert was born in Berlin in 1926, where he survived World War II before being “encouraged” by the East German government to leave for the West in 1979 because of his increasingly outspoken criticism of the government’s cultural and political policies. As a “Western” citizen, Kunert gave up his dissident status but has remained fiercely his own man. Despite his claim to be an outsider, he is, at 87, active in the public and the literary spheres.
His work is a remarkable blend of self-irony and hard-edged, sceptical realism; he has not been called a “merry melancholic,” a “cheerful Cassandra,” and “merry sceptic” for nothing. Prolific in many genres, he is an acknowledged Grand Old Man of contemporary German literature.
He is shown above with translator Gerald Chapple.