Markus Werner (1944-2016)


We are sad to announce the death of the esteemed author Markus Werner, who passed away over the weekend at his home in Schaffhausen.

Markus Werner was born in 1944 in Eschlikon, canton of Thurgau, in northeast Switzerland. He entered the University of Zürich in 1965, where he studied German, philosophy and psychology. In 1974 Werner completed a doctorate on Max Frisch, whose writing was to be an important influence upon Werner’s own. Werner then began work as a teacher and an assistant professor at a high school in Schaffhausen, but eventually dedicated himself exclusively to writing, and lived and wrote in Schaffhausen for the remainder of his life.

Markus Werner wrote seven novels between 1984 and 2004. Zündels Abgang (1984) was his first novel, later published by Dalkey Archive as Zündel’s Exit and translated by Michael Hoffman. Other English translations of Werner’s work include Am Hang (“On the Edge”), translated by Robert E. Goodwin and published by NYRB, and most recently Die kalte Schulter (Cold Shoulder), translated by Michael Hoffman and being published this month by Dalkey Archive.

A week before Werner’s death, the Swiss national newspaper Tages-Anzeiger published an admiring review of Werner’s complete works:

“Anyone who has read a single novel by Markus Werner remembers the words of thunder with which his characters judge the world . . . Yet there is in the whole work of Markus Werner no excess, no misplaced or insignificant word. Werner writes in a style that exposes the exact terror of efficiency suffered by his characters, and his writing is deeply entangled with the world.”

Markus Werner will be missed in literature. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time, in remembrance.

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