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Sieglinde Geisel

Portrait of the literary critic Sieglinde Geisel
Photo credit Peter Puentener

»The basic question of all literary critique: How do I know a book is good?«

Sieglinde Geisel grew up in Switzerland and studied German and theology in Zurich and Berlin. In 1988, she moved to Berlin, from 1994 to 1998 she served as the cultural correspondent of the NZZ in New York, and then in Berlin until 2016. She works as a literary critic and political commentator for the Deutschlandfunk Culture, SRF Kultur, the Republic and the WOZ among other institutions. She teaches workshops (at Freie Universität, Universität St. Gallen and elsewhere), moderates readings, works as a free lecturer and participates in literature juries. In 2016, she founded the online magazine tell ↗, which she has been managing since then. The term "Magazin für Literatur und Zeitgenossenschaft" (Magazine for Literature and Contemporaneity) shows commitment to the political relevance of literature.

How do I know that a book is good? This fundamental question of all literary criticism is at the heart of Sieglinde Geisel's diverse work in literatury crtitique. In the tell series ↗Satz für Satz for example, she examines the criteria for literature "Sentence by Sentence". In a conversation about the slating review for the Einstein Forum's online offering and on tell, she discusses judgment and criticism in literary critique, and in the literary feature ↗Schriftsteller mit weißer Weste? (Writers with a Clean Slate?) she considers the moral dimension of literature. According to Sieglinde Geisel, if literature wants to claim social relevance, it cannot ignore climate change. In reviews and discussions in Deutschlandfunk Kultur, she adresses climate fiction, and her participation in the Climate Fiction Festival also reflects this commitment. With regard to climate fiction, Sieglinde Geisel also asks the question of criteria: What characterizes a great works of cli fi?