Alexander Günsberg

Alexander Günsberg
1.Tell us a bit about yourself – something that we will not find in the official author’s bio?
Born in Milan in 1952, son of Austro-Hungarian Holocaust survivors; 1954 moved to Vienna; 1955 Joined the Jewish religious school; 1958 elementary school Kollonitzgasse; 1962 Realgymnasium Diefenbachgasse; 1965 moved to Zurich, attending Literargymnasium. Shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967 -  kibbutz stay in Israel; 1971 High School graduation, study of German studies, history and psychology in Zurich and Basel, editor-in-chief of two youth and student magazines, freelance journalist and youth leader; 1974 Literature Prize of the canton of Baselland for the short story 'Ascension', published in the volume 'Excellent Stories'. Then 5 marriages with 1 Jewess from Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy and Russia, 6 children, born between 1976 and 2012; Adventurous career as a ski instructor, car driving instructor, high school teacher, art promoter, jewelry wholesaler in Vienna, real estate agents in the US and General contractor in Valais; 1991 vice president of the Basel Chess Society; 1996 founder and president of the chess club Crans-Montana; 2016 founder and president of the Cercle d'échecs et d'art valaisan; friendship with Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov; Participation in 6 ACO World Chess Championships; 2018 Swiss team chess champion. Since 2016 publication of numerous novels, novella and short story collections by various publishers, which have been translated into several languages ​​and presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Collaboration with illustrators Alexander Pavlenko and Astrid Saalmann; Readings in Switzerland, Germany and Austria; In 2019, a new novel is proposed for the German Book Prize. Readings and book presentations in English and Russian are planned in New York. Lives and writes on Lake Zurich, second home in the Valais mountains. Describes himself as a citizen of the world, Heimwehwiener and critical Swiss. Married to Natalya Yakina.

2. Do you remember what was your first story (article, essay, or poem) about and when did you write it?

I started to write poems at the age of 10 or 11 and became redactor in chief of the swiss jewish youth magazine ‘Darkenu Chadash’ (‘Our new way’) in 1968, at the age of 16. From then on, I wrote many articles, poems and short stories and also political comments for ‘Darkenu Chadash’, ‘Makkabi Zeitung’, ‘Jüdisches Wochenblatt’ and ‘ART’ (Zurich student’s magazine, I was also redactor in chief).

3. What is the title of your latest book and what inspired it?

‘Tanz der Vexiere’: The question how we see us ourselves and how our inner vexier image can change our life. Actually, I’m writing historical novels for the Jewish holidays, on demand of Lichtig Verlag, Berlin. We are also planning a second new book, together with my friend and well-known German author Nea Weissberg (look at Wikipedia). It will be an anthology of 10 stories, written by 10 different authors, about personal relation of Jews, Christians and Muslims. It was my idea and I found the title: ‘Die Liebe der Johanna zu David und Mohammed’. We will all meet (all the 10 authors) in February in Berlin.

4. How long did it take you to write your latest work and how fast do you write (how many words daily)?
I write very quickly, but as my stories play in the historical context, the exact verification takes time. I would say, I write a 100.000 world novel in 4 to 6 month and a 4.000 word short story in about 20 hours.

5. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I interrupt sometimes my writing and play chess on the Internet to make a break and get new ideas.

6. Is writing the only form of artistic expression that you utilize, or is there more to your creativity than just writing?
Unfortunately, literature, chess, history, philosophy and Judaism are the only fields, in which I can express my ideas.

7. Authors and books that have influenced your writings?
To many! Altneuland from Theodor Herzl, The Pentateuch, The Haggadoth, Exodus and Mila 18 from Leon Uris, all the books of Hemingway, Stefan Zweig and Erich Maria Remarque, Hiob from Joseph Roth, short stories from Somerset Maugham and Edgar Allan Poe, Nana from Emile Zola, books of Roda Roda, Kafka, Karl Kraus, Arthur Schnitzler etc. etc.

8. Did you ever think about the profile of your readers? What do you think – who reads and who should read your books?

9. Do you have any advice for new writers/authors?
Write for yourself, not for readers!

10. What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Be yourself and don’t forget the others. (I think, it’s from myself.)

11. How many books you read annually and what are you reading now? What is your favorite literary genre?
Actually, I have a little time to read whole books, because of my writing and 1000 other things I’m doing. I buy many books, I would say, at least 10 to 30 a week, and overfly them, reading one chapter here and one chapter there. The last books I bought were from André Kaminsky, Kurt Guggenheim, Isaak Babel, Alfred Döblin, Tuvia Tenenbaum, Gregor von Rezzori and Ilya Ehrenburg.

12. What do you deem the most relevant about your writing? What is the most important to be remembered by readers?
I try to tell the historic or personal truth in an exciting and thrilling way.

14. What is your opinion about the publishing industry today and about the ways authors can best fit into the new trends?
Get back the lost readers by stopping to publish boring books!
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