Thor Kunkel: „I am the drop of cold air in the global warming of German literature.“

Thor Kunkel, Montreux, Schweiz, 2021

INTRO

Bestseller-author and director Thor Kunkel, born in 1963,  stands out as a cult-figure within german literature with his maniac characters‚ quirky dialogues and salutes to pop-culture. He studied communictions science in Frankfurt/Main and San Francisco/USA.

Kunkel exploded onto the scene in 2004 with his highly acclaimed and later scandalized novel “Endstufe – The Final Level‚” picking up a strong following. His work has earned him the reputation of „being one of germany’s hottest young writers“ (The Guardian, 12.02.04.).

Kunkel is fluent in English, Dutch and German (mother-tongue).

Always keen to find a new challenge, Kunkel decided to quit advertising in 1995. Writing straight from the start powerful and successful fiction including his award-winning novel »Das Schwarzlicht-Terrarium« (The Blacklight-Terrarium, 2000) and the psycho-thriller »Ein Brief an Hanny Porter« (A letter to Hanny Porter, 2001)”, Kunkel has become a master of bringing life to german literature – and the film industry: He has worked as a playwright for Ziegler-Film, Berlin, UFA Grundy, Berlin, Rif-Film, Cologne, DOR Film, Austria and Pro 7, München. His highly anticipated novel „Subs“ has been brought to life on screen by german director Oscar Roehler.

Thor Kunkel lives in Switzerland.

WELCOME

This press archive has been under construction since March 2021. It is under the control of a private sponsorship based in Ascona, Switzerland.

In practical terms, the site also functions as an information centre in times of Cancel Culture and Framing . Its primary offering is generally aimed at people from the German-speaking world who are interested in Thor Kunkel and his work. In scholarly terms, it is aimed at students, philologists and Germanists who are looking for primary sources.

The author is considered „controversial“ by the mainstream media and at the same time one of the most important pioneers for a renewal of German-language literature. With his autobiographically based novel „Das Schwarzlicht-Terrarium“ (The Black Light Terrarium), first presented in Klagenfurt in 1999, he invented – from our current perspective – the literary genre of autofiction. Kunkel’s novels are inseparable from personal phases in the life of the author, who has been living in Switzerland since 2009.

The idea of a Kunkel Press Archive arose between students in a comparative literature seminar at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Department I. The archive is therefore understood as a propaedeutic passage to a possible research project.

On the one hand, this was prompted by the surprising realisation that the net – with regard to Thor Kunkel’s person and novels – is very forgetful, at least as far as positive reporting is concerned. If you do superficial research, you get the impression that Thor Kunkel only appeared in 2004 with his novel Endstufe, which was scandalised by the Spiegel, and then immediately disappeared into oblivion again. Earlier and later creative phases are omitted, references to awards, scholarships and positions on bestseller lists are routinely suppressed, and instead the author is maligned on the basis of a short-term industrial activity (party advertising) from 2017.)

The archivists owe further motivation to the current Wikipedia article on the lemma Thor Kunkel, where Wiki information officers are virtually outbidding each other to marginalise the scandal unleashed against Kunkel by the right-wing blogger Henrik Broder in 2004. Yet there is hardly a modern, German-language writer in the German-speaking world who is more fascinating in terms of his multi-layered work and personality than Thor Kunkel. As a transgressive mastermind of an atypical German literature, the influence of his works on young authors has not lost its significance to this day.

The purpose of this online archival representation is essentially to document the reception of the writer and studied visual artist before his unofficial expatriation to the greatest possible extent and to make the deleted primary sources accessible again for literary research purposes.

Kunkel’s groundbreaking work (take only his science fiction treatment of the III Reich in Endstufe), his literary-aesthetic morphology, which is unique in Germany, and also his successes at home and abroad, are to be blanked out in order to deprive the author of artistic and career-enhancing development opportunities and to diminish his life’s work. The Wikipedia article has been shortened more and more in recent years – despite successes such as the film adaptation of Kunkel’s Subs by director Oscar Roehler – no doubt on the premise of creating irrelevance. For example, an entire section on „Secondary Literature and Propaedeutics“, which had existed for several years, was eleminated without justification in the summer of 2021.

This press archive has been under construction since March 2021. It is under the control of a private sponsorship based in Ascona, Switzerland.

In practical terms, the site also functions as an information centre in times of Cancel Culture and Framing . Its primary offering is generally aimed at people from the German-speaking world who are interested in Thor Kunkel and his work. In scholarly terms, it is aimed at students, philologists and Germanists who are looking for primary sources.

The author is considered „controversial“ by the mainstream media and at the same time one of the most important pioneers for a renewal of German-language literature. With his autobiographically based novel „Das Schwarzlicht-Terrarium“ (The Black Light Terrarium), first presented in Klagenfurt in 1999, he invented – from our current perspective – the literary genre of autofiction. Kunkel’s novels are inseparable from personal phases in the life of the author, who has been living in Switzerland since 2009.

The idea of a Kunkel Press Archive arose between students in a comparative literature seminar at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Department I. The archive is therefore understood as a propaedeutic passage to a possible research project.

On the one hand, this was prompted by the surprising realisation that the net – with regard to Thor Kunkel’s person and novels – is very forgetful, at least as far as positive reporting is concerned. If you do superficial research, you get the impression that Thor Kunkel only appeared in 2004 with his novel Endstufe, which was scandalised by the Spiegel, and then immediately disappeared into oblivion again. Earlier and later creative phases are omitted, references to awards, scholarships and positions on bestseller lists are routinely suppressed, and instead the author is maligned on the basis of a short-term industrial activity (party advertising) from 2017.

The archivists owe further motivation to the current Wikipedia article on the lemma Thor Kunkel, where Wiki information officers are virtually outbidding each other to marginalise the scandal unleashed against Kunkel by the right-wing blogger Henrik Broder in 2004. Yet there is hardly a modern, German-language writer in the German-speaking world who is more fascinating in terms of his multi-layered work and personality than Thor Kunkel. As a transgressive mastermind of an atypical German literature, the influence of his works on young authors has not lost its significance to this day.

The purpose of this online archival representation is essentially to document the reception of the writer and studied visual artist before his unofficial expatriation to the greatest possible extent and to make the deleted primary sources accessible again for literary research purposes.

Kunkel’s groundbreaking work (take only his science fiction treatment of the III Reich in Endstufe), his literary-aesthetic morphology, which is unique in Germany, and also his successes at home and abroad, are to be blanked out in order to deprive the author of artistic and career-enhancing development opportunities and to diminish his life’s work. The Wikipedia article has been shortened more and more in recent years – despite successes such as the film adaptation of Kunkel’s Subs by director Oscar Roehler – no doubt on the premise of creating irrelevance. For example, an entire section on „Secondary Literature and Propaedeutics“, which had existed for several years, was eleminated without justification in the summer of 2021.

The fact is, the Wikipedia article contains numerous errors. Even the first sentence, which claims that Kunkel is a „freelance PR consultant“ is wrong. There is no citation of sources – as is usually the case. The fact is: In the course of more than 30 professional years, the author worked as a creative director, screenplay writer and director. The profession of „PR consultant“ was never exercised by Kunkel at any time. The foreign label „PR consultant“ coined by Wikipedia is meant to sound cheap and condescending and to insinuate a paid propaganda job. Calling a multi-award-winning creative from the London and Amsterdam advertising scene a „freelance PR consultant“ is like comparing a heart surgeon to a general practitioner, a judge to a bailiff, a top athlete to a local footballer, etc. It is obvious that this biography is to be bent here according to the GDR model. Through the new web presence, it is possible for researchers and students to gain a complete overview of Kunkel’s reception through more than 2 decades.

The private archive material, recently transferred from Lausanne to Ascona, is not accessible to the public for understandable reasons. Upon request to ashilpinslife@gmail.com, the originals, as well as other documents published here for the first time, can be provided. These include testimonials from writing practice, photos from reading tours and extracts from correspondence. All scanned items are either reproductions of real existing information carriers or archival worthy loans from third parties, deposited with reference to the Swiss Code of Obligations §19.2.2. in the sense of a depositum irregulare without transfer of ownership. They are presented here in the sense of objets trouvés. The archival records have therefore not been typed. The archive’s sponsorship points out that it is neither the author nor the owner of the encoded contents. Downloading the scans – even for academic purposes – is therefore strictly prohibited. The sole purpose is to provide access to the information in order to counteract the media-manipulated image of the author’s activities.


The staff of this archive – all students at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and residents of Munich – would like to thank Mr. Kunkel for his support.

Biographical

I am a person of balance. I instinctively lean ti the left,

when the barge threatens to capsize on the right – and vice versa.

–THOMAS MANN, 1934, in letter to Karl Kerényi

Natural philosophy and biology, Andy Warhol and Stanley Kubrick, cargo cult and the utopian ideas of the 3rd Reich, – they form the intellectual background of  Thor Kunkel, an exceptional writer among the representatives of the new „rebellious“ German counterculture, which is hidden by the mainstream media and which refuses to agree on an ideologically manipulated world view.
Until 2004, Volker Weidermann, head of the Feuilleton section of the FAS, considered Kunkel a beacon of hope for contemporary German literature.
Straight from the start Kunkel knew exactly what he was doing: “For me – as Gustav Meyrink wrote – a good novel is something of a „mental work“ of art, without inherent consciousness, – a work of art that is created like a crystal, that is, according to a law that always remains the same grows out of the formless. ”(HR3, March 21, 2000)
The Ernst Willner award winner (Ingeborg-Bachmann-Context, Klagenfurt) was courted for years by the media and sponsored by the literary industry with scholarships. German critics acknowledged the virtuosity of his prose. All of this turned into an illeberal mallice after a call-murder-campaign  launched by a single SPIEGEL-muckracker, who accused the author of „revisionism“. What followed was one of the most violent literary scandals today. Never before has an author been so hunted and insulted by the media as “hard, relentless, if not to say merciless” (full text, 9/08).
The cultural reservation (against Kunkels writings) formulated by the media in 2004 was followed by the intellectual expatriation of the writer, who moved to Switzerland. His novels are demonstratively ignored by the Colums, which see themselves as an extended arm of political correctness, or are only partially reviewed – in hope that Kunkel’s outstanding narrative work is gradually forgotten. As in Stalinism, the artist should be destroyed by deliberate concealment, but Kunkel ist still writing at the top in the field of contemporary german writers. Even better, the german public regards him as a „cult-figure“, who hasn’t sold out to mainstream, but  continues to keep the originality­ of his thinking at the center of things.
If you take a closer look at Kunkel’s bibliography, you can see that the topic “3rd Reich “is only one of many : Even utopian-technical novels (“ Foam Sister ”), passionately written (“ Kuhls Kosm ”) and social satires such as“ Subs ”(put onto screen in 2018 by Oskar Roehler, Title: HERRliche Zeiten) prove the range of this author, whom some critics have been considered to be among the best writers of the German present.