The Nobel Prize in Literature 2019
Born: 6 December 1942, Griffen, Austria
Residence at the time of the award: Chaville, France
Prize motivation: “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”
Prize share: 1/1
Peter Handke was born in a village named Griffen, located in the Kärnten region in southern Austria. His mother Maria belonged to the Slovenian minority. His father was a German soldier he would not meet before reaching adulthood himself. Instead, he and his siblings grew up with his mother and her new husband. After attending a Christian high school in Klagenfurt he studied law at the University of Graz but broke off his studies a few years later when his debut novel Die Hornissen (1966) was published. Since 1990 he has been based in Chaville, southwest of Paris, from where he has made many productive journeys.
Peter Handke is one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War. His bibliography contains novels, essays, note books, dramatic works and screenplays. Already in the 1960s Handke set his mark on the literary scene. He distanced himself from prevailing demands on community-oriented and political positions. His works are filled with a strong desire to discover and to bring his discoveries to life by finding new literary expressions for them. One of his books is A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, written after his mother’s suicide.