Michael Kleeberg

The Idiot of the Twenty-First Century

Der Idiot des 21. Jahrhunderts

The Idiot of the Twenty-First Century

Shortlisted for the Wilhelm Raabe Literay Prize 2018
Recommended for translation by New Books in German
English and Arabic sample translations available

Michael Kleeberg recounts stories and fates in a globalized world, transforming the major questions of our time into gripping literature

In a kaleidoscopic novel composed of 12 books and inspired by Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan and Nizami’s Layla and Majnun, Michael Kleeberg tells the stories of a group of friends from very different cultural backgrounds: Hermann, a German philosophy teacher; Maryam, an Iranian singer; Younes, a Lebanese pastor; Zygmunt, a Polish handyman; Bernhard, a director of an association for youth social work; Ulla, his wife; and Kadmos, an Arab poet. Kleeberg’s book is set in the West and in the East as well as in the realm of myths; he combines different points-of-view and genres into a big, multi-perspectival whole that does justice to the questions and insecurities of the present.

"A 21st-century west-eastern divan – following in Goethe’s footsteps, Michael Kleeberg collects twelve stories that include all the problems and conflicts of our era: terrorism, fundamentalism, the clash of civilizations. From Lebanon and Iran all the way to the Hessian provinces – in the end, the vision of a humanist utopia emerges in which people can be friends with each other despite all their differences. A major, ambitious coup of world literature!“ – Deutschlandradio Kultur

"Michael Kleeberg has this willingness to forget his identity (not his existence or culture). He is willing to approach the other without readymade categories." – Abbas Beydoun



ISBN: 978-3-86971-139-3
release: 16. August 2018
464 pages, gebunden mit SU


24,00 €
0,00 sFr
24,70 €
sample translation

About the Author

Michael Kleeberg was born in Stuttgart in 1959 and now lives in Berlin, where he works as a writer and translator (of Marcel Proust, John Dos Passos, Graham Greene and Paul Bowles, among others). He received the Friedrich Hölderlin Prize 2015 and the literature prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation 2016. In 2017, he held the Frankfurt lectureship in poetics.

His books have been sold to Denmark, France, Greece, Iran, Japan and the USA.