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ILB Author Spotlight: Norman Ohler

After the publication of his controversial non-fiction book on drug use in the Third Reich, "Blitzed", German author Norman Ohler returns to his novelist roots with the launch of his latest novel "Die Gleichung des Lebens" (Sep 15, 21:00).

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Photo by Hartwig Klappert

Though his name has almost become synonymous with his controversial book on drug use in the Third Reich, Blizted, Norman Ohler began his writing as a novelist, publishing three and co-writing a screenplay for Palmero Shooting with Wim Wenders before embarking on his non-fiction work. Blitzed polarised critics, with some praising it as a “remarkable work of research” and others calling it “crass and dangerously inaccurate” and intrigued readers, being published in over 25 languages. Following Blitzed, Ohler returns to his novelist roots with his latest book Die Gleichung des Lebens (The Equivalence of Life) – catch him read from it at the launch on September 15, 9pm at Berliner Festspiele.

Describe your first memory of writing…

I never recall writing. I am always surprised to find new things that I have written. Was it really me?

The three Ws: Where, When, Why do you write?

I write in nature, in the morning, because it allows me to separate myself from my surroundings.

How do you get started (with the first sentence, a character, an anecdote, with a coffee or other substances)?

I need green tea. That’s it.

Worst praise/favourite criticism about your work?

Ian Kershaw saying my book on drugs in the Third Reich was essential.

Books and politics: what should the connection be? What makes writers good/bad activists?

Good writing is always political. It opens up space, at least in the head.

Your favourite literary character. Why?

Tyrone Slothrop, from Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Because he is very funny.

A book you wish you had written…

The Bible.

Best recent read…

Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Choose an epitaph…

He came, he saw, he wrote.

Berlin: the first thing that comes to mind?

“We blew it, man, we blew it.“