Bernhard Schlink : biography
Bernhard Schlink (born 6 July 1944 in Bielefeld) is a German jurist and writer. He was born in Bethel, Germany, to a German father (Edmund Schlink) and a Swiss mother, the youngest of four children. Both his parents were theology students, although his father lost his job as a Professor of Theology due to the Nazis, and had to settle on being a pastor instead. Bernhard Schlink was brought up in Heidelberg from the age of two. He studied law at West Berlin’s Free University, graduating in 1968.
Schlink became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and in 1992 a professor for public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin. He retired in January 2006.
Schlink studied law at the University of Heidelberg and at the Free University of Berlin. He had been a law professor at the University of Bonn and Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main before he started in 1992 at Humboldt University of Berlin. His career as a writer began with several detective novels with a main character named Selb—a play on the German word for "self"—(the first, Self’s Punishment, co-written with Walter Popp being available in the UK). One of these, Die gordische Schleife, won the Glauser Prize in 1989.
In 1995 he published The Reader (Der Vorleser), a novel about a teenager who has an affair with a woman in her thirties who suddenly vanishes but whom he meets again as a law student when visiting a trial about war crimes. The book became a bestseller both in Germany and the United States and was translated into 39 languages. It was the first German book to reach the number one position in the New York Times bestseller list. In 1997 it won the Hans Fallada Prize, a German literary award, and the Prix Laure Bataillon for works translated into French. In 1999 it was awarded the Welt-Literaturpreis of the newspaper Die Welt.
In 2000, Schlink published a collection of short fiction called Flights of Love. A January 2008 literary tour, including an appearance in San Francisco for City Arts & Lectures, was cancelled due to Schlink’s recovery from minor surgery.
In 2008 Stephen Daldry directed a film adaptation of The Reader. In 2010 his non-fiction political history, Guilt About the Past was published by Beautiful Books Limited (UK).
Schlink currently divides his time between New York and Berlin.