Franz Hodjak

Franz Hodjak was born in 1944 in Hermannstadt (Sibiu), Romania, and studied German and Romanian language and literature in Klausenburg, where he subsequently worked as a proofreader for the publishing house Dacia. During the following years he became one of the most notable of a number of writers living and working in the largely German-speaking region of Siebenbürgen, and published his first volumes of poetry. In 1992, after long struggles with the censorship practices of the Ceaucescu regime, he moved to Germany, settling finally in Usingen, Hessen. 

Both his prose and his poetry deal principally either with the confrontation of the free individual with a restrictive and repressive environment, or else with the fate and identity problems of the exile. His poetry is coolly lucid and concise, and expresses a great sense of loss without allowing itself the indulgence of self-pity. His earlier works use clear imagery and are immediately accessible; in later works the language becomes more elliptic and the syntax more fragmented. Hodjak’s publications include the poetry collections: Sehnsucht nach Feigenschnaps (Aufbau Verlag 1988); Siebenbürgische Sprechübung (1990), Landverlust (1993), Ankunft Konjunktiv (1997) (all with Suhrkamp Verlag). His published novels include Grenzsteine (1995) and Ein Koffer voller Sand (2003). Franz Hodjak has won numerous prizes and awards for his work, among them the Nikolaus Lenau Prize, Heinrich Heine Stipendium, Hermann Hesse Stipendium and the award of honour for the Andreas Gryphius Prize.

– from Peter Oram’s introduction in MPT 3/10 The Big Green Issue