Sibylle Berg

Sibylle Berg (born 2 June 1962[1]) is a Swiss contemporary author and playwright. They write novels, essays, short fiction, plays, radio plays, and columns. Their 15 books have been translated into 30 languages.[2] They have won numerous awards, including the Thüringer Literaturpreis, the Bertolt-Brecht-Literaturpreis, and the Johann-Peter-Hebel-Preis. They have become an iconic figure in German alternative sub-cultures, gaining a large fan base among the LGBT community and the European artistic communities. They live in Switzerland and Israel.[3] Their 2019 work GRM: Brainfuck, a science fiction novel set in a dystopian near future[4][5] won the Swiss Book Prize, and reached fourth place on the Spiegel Bestseller list, with the sequel, RCE, entering the list at place 14.[6]

Sibylle Berg
Sibylle Berg an der re-publica 19-2.jpg
Born (1962-06-02) 2 June 1962 (age 60)
Weimar, Bezirk Erfurt, East Germany
OccupationNovelist, playwright
Alma materUniversity of Hamburg
GenreGerman-language plays, social criticism, LGBT literature, German poetry
Years active1997–present
Notable awardsWolfgang Koeppen Prize, Else-Lasker-Schüler-Dramatikerpreis


Berg was born on 2 June 1962 in Weimar, Germany.[1] They spent their childhood and youth in Constanta, Romania.[7] Their father was a music professor, and their mother was a librarian. Before beginning their higher education in West Germany, they were trained as a combat diver.[citation needed] They studied oceanography at the University of Hamburg, and worked various jobs.[8][9] In 1996, they moved to Zurich, Switzerland. They married in 2004, and has held Swiss citizenship since 2012. Berg is known to support the Straight Edge movement.[10] Berg describes themself as Non-Binary and uses they/them pronouns.[11][12]


Sibylle Berg's first novel, "A Few People Search For Happiness And Laugh Themselves To Death",[13] was published in 1997 by Reclam Publishing, after previously being rejected by 50 other publishers.

As of October 2022, Berg has written 16 novels.[14][6] To promote their newly released books, Sibylle Berg goes on tour, with the 2012 release of Vielen Dank für das Leben (Thank You For This Life) including contributions from film and theater actors Katia Riemann,[15] Mathias Brandt,[16] and musician Mary Ocher,[17][18] and the release of GRM: brainfuck featured the grime rappers T.Roadz, and Prince Rapid and Slix of Ruff Sqwad.[19]


Sibylle Berg has written 29 plays. In 2000, in Bochum, their second play Helges Leben (Helge's Life) was staged and commissioned for the Mulheim Theater Festival.[20]

In 2008, the play Von denen die überleben (Of Those Who Survive) was staged in the central theater of Zurich, in collaboration with well-known artists such as Jon Pylypchuk,[21] Gabríela Friðriksdóttir,[22] and more.

In 2013, Sibylle Berg began working with Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin,[23] and their first play, Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draussen (The so-called outside means nothing to me),[24] was selected in 2014 as the play of the year by Theater heute.[25]

In 2015, the play Und dann kam Mirna (And Then Came Mirna) won the Friedrich Luft Prize[26] as the best production in Berlin and Potsdam.

In 2019, the play Wonderland Ave was invited to the "Mülheim Theatertage".[27]

In 2019, the play Hate Triptych – Ways out of the crisis (Hass-Triptychon – Wege aus der Krise) won the Nestroypreis as the best play of the year in German-speaking countries.[28]

Berg's plays have been staged and aired in the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Social activismEdit

Sibylle Berg has long been a social activist. In 2018, they launched a referendum against insurance companies monitoring individual insurers without the requirement for a court order.[29][30] They support the referendum E-ID, against privatization of a digital passport project into private businesses.[31] In 2019, in response to man-dominated historiography, together with other women and non-binary people, they published The Canon for the Visibility of Women in Science Art and Literature.[32]

Sibylle Berg is active in science education. Their interviews with experts in various disciplines were published in the Swiss magazine Republik, and then in book form under the title Nerds retten die Welt ("Nerds save the world").[33]

They support the Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights of the European Union, published at the end of November 2016,[34] and is a regular guest at the Re:publica conference.[35]

Other projectsEdit

Berg has written various contributions for Die Zeit, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Die Presse, among others. They have also been a columnist for Spiegel Online since January 2011, under the title S.P.O.N. – Fragen Sie Frau Sibylle (Ask Ms. Sibylle), published weekly until March 2018, and bi-weekly since then. The column has more than 4 million followers.[36] Berg also conducts a regular interview series for the Swiss online magazine Republik, entitled "Nerds Save The World", in which she speaks to specialists from various disciplines.[37] In 2020, a book named "Nerds Save The World" that unites all conversations was published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

Sibylle Berg has written songs to her own plays, as well as to other artists, like the lyrics for several songs by the Swiss singer Sina.[38][39] In 2011, the song Ich Schwvara, written by Berg and sang by Sina, was the song of the year and the most-played song at weddings in Switzerland. Berg wrote the text Speed for Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub. Along with Rammstein and Element of Crime, Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub can be heard on the recorded reading of Berg's novel Sex II (1999). From January 2016 to December 2017, Berg read her own satirical texts off-air ahead of the introduction of guests on the ZDFneo talk show Schulz & Böhmermann.[40]


In March 2013, Sibylle Berg co-directed, with Hasko Weber, Angst Reist Mit (Fear Travels With Us) at the Stuttgart Theater. That same year, The Berliner Festspiele honored their in "A Day with Sibylle Berg", where they directed a day-long event (including 60 well-known artists, some personal friends, others collaborators).[41] In October 2015, they directed their play, "How To Sell A Murder House", at the Neumarkt Zurch Theater.[42]

Educational canonEdit

In 2018, Berg collaborated with Simone Meier, Hedwig Richter, Margarete Stokowski, and seven others to produce the list Women You Need To Know, published in August by Spiegel Online and The canon includes 145 women and three female artist groups, sub-divided into science, technology, research, as well as politics, literature, and art.[43]

Teaching workEdit

Berg has been teaching dramaturgy at the Zurich University of the Arts since 2013.[44]

Works translated into EnglishEdit

  • By the Way, Did I Ever Tell You. Editor Raphael Gygax, Distributed Art Pub Incorporated, 2007, ISBN 978-3-905770-77-3
  • AND NOW: THE WORLD!. Directed by Abigail Graham, Hackney Showroom London, 2015.[45][46]
  • Wonderland Avenue, commissioned by Frieze Projects for Frieze Arts Fair 2016. Directed by Sebastian Nuebling, set built by German artist Claus Richter.[47][48]
  • Grime [GRM Brainfuck], trans. Tim Mohr, St. Martin's Griffin, 2022. ISBN 9781250796516.[49]

Works translated into FrenchEdit

  • Chercher le bonheur et crever de rire ["Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot"], trans. by Maryvonne Litaize and Yasmin Hoffmann, Nîmes, France, Éditions Jacqueline Chambon, coll. "Métro", 2000, 206 pp. ISBN 2-87711-213-6
  • Amerika ["Amerika"], trans. by Maryvonne Litaize and Jacqueline Chambon, Nîmes, France, Éditions Jacqueline Chambon, coll. " Métro ", 2001, 267 p. ISBN 2-87711-228-4
  • La Mauvaise Nouvelle d'abord. Des histoires d'hommes : nouvelles ["Das unerfreuliche Zuerst. Herrengeschichten"], trans. by Maryvonne Litaize and Yasmin Hoffmann, Nîmes, France, Éditions Jacqueline Chambon, coll. "Métro", 2003, 150 p. ISBN 2-87711-258-6
  • La Vie de Martin ["Helges Leben"], trans. by Pascal Paul-Harang, Paris, Éditions Climats, 2004, 75 p. ISBN 2-84158-252-3
  • Herr Mautz ["Herr Mautz"], trans. by Silvia Berutti-Ronelt and Laurent Hatat, Toulouse, France, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, coll. "Nouvelles scènes", 2004, 73 p. ISBN 2-85816-729-X
  • Chien, femme, homme ["Hund, Frau, Mann"], trans. by Pascal Paul-Harang, Paris, L'Arche Éditeur, coll. "Scène ouverte", 2012, 41 p. ISBN 978-2-85181-780-8L'Arche éditeur Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  • Merci bien pour la vie ["Vielen Dank für das Leben"], trans. by Rose Labourie, Arles, France, Actes Sud, 2015, 352 pp. ISBN 978-2-330-05304-8





  • A Few People Search For Happiness And Laugh Themselves To Death / Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot. (1999)
  • Victor's Life / Helges Leben (2000)
  • Dog, Woman, Man / Hund, Frau, Mann (2001)
  • Herr Mautz (2002)
  • Eine Stunde Glück (2003)
  • Look, The Sun Is Going Down / Schau, da geht die Sonne unter (2003)
  • It'll Be Alright. Never Love Again! / Das wird schon. Nie mehr Lieben! (2004)
  • Make A Wish / Wünsch dir was. Ein Musical (2006)
  • Did I actually tell you...? / Habe ich dir eigentlich schon erzählt..., 2 October 2007 Deutsches Theater in Göttingen. Director: Katja Fillmann (2007)
  • Of Those Who Will Survive /Von denen, die überleben (2008)
  • The Final Golden Years / Die goldenen letzten Jahre (2009)
  • Only At Night / Nur nachts (2010)
  • The Main Thing Is Work! / Hauptsache Arbeit! (2010)
  • Missions Of Beauty / Missionen der Schönheit (2010)
  • Don't Spoil The Surprise! / Lasst euch überraschen (2010)
  • The Ladies Are Waiting / Die Damen warten (2012)
  • Fear Travels With Us / Angst reist mit (2013, Berg's debut as stage director)
  • Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen (2013)
  • My Slightly Strange Friend Walter / Mein ziemlich seltsamer Freund Walter (2014)
  • Good Cooking / Viel gut essen, von Frau Berg (2014)
  • And Now: The World! / Und jetzt: Die Welt! (2015)
  • And Then Came Mirna / Und dann kam Mirna (2015)
  • How To Sell A Murder House (2015)
  • After us the universe or the inner team knows no break/ Nach uns das All oder Das innere Team kennt keine Pause. 15 September 2017 Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin. Director: Sebastian Nübling (2017)
  • Wonderland Ave., at: Schauspiel Köln, 8 June 2018; Director: Ersan Mondtag (2018)
  • Hate Triptych – Ways out of the crisis / Hass-Triptychon — Wege aus der Krise. Director: Ersan Mondtag (2019)
  • In the gardens / In den Gärten, 16 November 2019 Theater Basel (Director: Miloš Lolić) (2019)
  • And surely the world disappeared with me / Und sicher ist mit mir die Welt verschwunden, 24 October 2020 Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin. Director: Sebastian Nübling (2020)
  • GRM Brainfuck ( based on the 2019 novel of the same name). A musical. 2 July 2021 World premiere at Theater of the world. Director: Sebastian Nübling. Editing: Sibylle Berg (2021)
  • GRM Brainfuck ( based on the 2019 novel of the same name). A musical. 10 September 2021 premier at Thalia Theater. Director: Sebastian Nübling. Editing: Sibylle Berg (2021)

Radio playsEdit

  • Sex II shortend reading of Sibylle Berg, with music of Phillip Boa, Rammstein, Element of Crime, u. a. Reclam, Leipzig 1999.
  • Amerika, shortend reading of Sibylle Berg, Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 1999.
  • Gold shortend reading of Sibylle Berg, Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 2000.
  • Sex II, director: Stefan Hardt and Inga Busch and Beate Jensen (SWR). 2000.
  • Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot, director: Beate Andres. voice: Sophie Rois, Dagmar Sitte, Christian Berkel u. a. (NDR/HR), Munich 2003
  • Ende gut, Hörspiel, director: Claudia Johanna Leist, composer: Caspar Brötzmann (WDR). 2005.
  • Das wird schon. Nie mehr lieben!, adaptation: Wolfgang Stahl, director: Sven Stricker, voice: Leslie Malton, Stefanie Stappenbeck, Daniela Ziegler, Andreas Fröhlich (NDR) radio play of the month Juli. 2006.
  • Hongkong Airport, 23.45 h. director: Claudia Johanna Leist, voice: Christian Redl, Angelika Bartsch, Anna Thalbach, u. a. (WDR) 2007.
  • Der Mann schläft. director: Leonhard Koppelmann, composer: Gerd Bessler, voice: Judith Engel, Leonie Landa, Markus John, Jens Harzer, Achim Buch, Marion Breckwoldt, Christian Redl (NDR) 2010.
  • Vielen Dank für das Leben, shortend reading of Gustav Peter Wöhler, 5 CD, 397 minutes. radio play Hamburg, Hamburg 2012.
  • Und jetzt: die Welt! Oder: Es sagt mir nichts, das sogenannte Draußen., director: Stefan Kanis, voice: Marina Frenk (MDR) 2015.
  • GRM Brainfuck. voices: Torben Kessler, Lisa Hrdina. 2019 Argon Verlag GmbH, Berlin


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  2. ^ a b "rowohlt-Theaterverlag :: Berg, Sibylle". rowohlt-Theaterverlag (in German). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
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  5. ^ Oltermann, Philip (30 June 2019). "German sci-fi fans lap up dystopian tales of Brexit Britain" – via
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  12. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  31. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Who runs the world? 148 Frauen, die ihr euch zum Vorbild nehmen könnt #DIEKANON".
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External linksEdit