Michelle Steinbeck

Swiss author, literary curator and editor Michelle Steinbeck echoes surrealist writers like Kafka in her debut novel My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water.

Born in 1990, Steinbeck studied creative writing before becoming an editor at Fabrikzeitung. Her poetry collection Eingesperrte Vögel singen mehr (Birds in a cage sing more) was published in 2018, and her prose, poetry and dramas have been performed on stage and broadcast. Steinbeck also organises Babelsprech, a forum for young German-language poets.

Her debut novel My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water – which was originally published in German in 2016 – has already been nominated for both the Swiss and the German Book prize. The English language version, which has been translated by Jen Calleja, was released last year and an Italian release is also planned.

The fantastical novel follows Loribeth, a young woman, on a perilous journey as she searches for her absent father. Throughout her journey, Loribeth encounters disturbing people and places – an allegory for her increasing feelings of dislocation and troubled psychological state. Schweizer Fernsehen (Swiss Television) described My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water as a “trippy fairy tale with wild and fantastical depth.”

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