Facts about Elfriede Jelinek

Elfriede Jelinek is 77 years old
Birthplace: Mürzzuschlag, Austria
Best known as: 2004 Nobel-winning Austrian novelist

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Elfriede Jelinek Biography

Elfriede Jelinek is a controversial Austrian novelist and dramatist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004. In the early 1960s she studied music composition and theater science, and by the early ’70s was also active in leftist politics. She began writing radio plays, and her 1974 play “When the Sun Sinks It’s Time to Close Shop” made her famous in Austria and Germany. Jelinek’s work has often caused controversy, especially in Austria, where she has been criticized for pointing to Austria’s role in World War II fascism. Her work has also been described as “pornographic” for its frank depictions of sex and violence, but Jelinek’s reputation as an overtly political writer has kept critics from denouncing her work as simply prurient. Her work is little known outside of Germany and Austria, but she is considered an influential writer and in 2004 she won the Nobel Prize for literature, only the tenth woman to do so. Her most famous books are Wonderful, Wonderful Times (1980) and The Piano Teacher (1983). The latter was made into a feature film starring Isabelle Huppert and was released in 2001. Famously reclusive (she describes herself as having a “social phobia”), Jelinek released her 2007 novel online, under the title Neid (Envy).

Extra credit

Jelinek also wrote a libretto for an opera by Olga Neuwirth, based on Lost Highway, the movie by David Lynch.


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