Autorenfoto: Ricky Owens
The son of Austrian-Jewish emigrés, born in New York in 1952, Peter Wortsman was raised bilingually in German and English, i.e. linguistically confused. He is the author of a novel (Cold Earth Wanderers, 2014), two volumes of short fiction (A Modern Way to Die, 1991, second edition, 2019; and Footprints in Wet Cement, 2017), plays (Burning Words, premiered in 2006, in German translation, 2014; and The Tattooed Man Tells All, 2018), a travel memoir (Ghost Dance in Berlin, 2013), and of a book of nonfiction (The Caring Heirs of Doctor Samuel Bard, 2019). Wortsman is also a literary translator from German into English, of works by Chamisso, the Grimms, Heine, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Kafka, Kleist, Musil, and Mynona, among others. Recipient of the 1985 Beard's Fund Short Story Award, the 2008 Gertje Potash-Suhr Prosapreis of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German, the 2012 Gold Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year (Solas Awards Competition), and the 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), he was a 1973 Fulbright Fellow at the Albert Ludwig Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau, 1974 Fellow of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in Vienna, 2010 Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and in the summer of 2016 a Fellow of the Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Literatur in Vienna. His travelogues were selected five years in a row, 2008-2012, and again in 2016 for inclusion in The Best Travel Writing. His short fiction appeared, in German translation, in the magazines, Manuskripte, in Graz, Schreibheft, in Essen, Cicero, in Berlin, and in the anthology AmLit: Neue Literatur aus den USA, published by the Druckhaus Galrev, Berlin. His essays were published, in German translation, in Die Weltand Die Zeiterschienen. His interviews with survivors of the Nazi concentration camps comprise the "Peter Wortsman Collection of Oral History" at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.