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Ulla Lenze is a German writer and was born in Mönchengladbach in 1973. At the age of sixteen, she dropped out of school for six months and lived with an Indian host family in Pune, India. After graduating from high school, she studied school music (majoring in piano) at the Cologne University of Music and studied philosophy at the university to become a teacher, completing her studies with a state examination thesis on Hegel's "Theory of Poetry".

Between 2009 and 2011, Ulla Lenze lived in Mumbai and Istanbul until she settled in Berlin in 2011. Since 2021, Ulla Lenze has lived in Buckow (Märkische Schweiz) near Berlin. In 2023, she held the prestigious Max Kade Visiting Professorship (Dartmouth, USA).


Her first novel, "Schwester und Bruder" (DuMont 2003), which goes back to her early experiences in India and has received several literary awards, initiated a long-term study of the Orient and Occident hemispheres, which was reflected in her travels and writing, including the Auroville novel "Archanu" (Ammann Verlag 2008). The novel "Der kleine Rest des Todes" (FVA 2012) deals with the accidental death of her father and is Ulla Lenze's most personal book.

The novel "The Endless City" (FVA 2015) once again moves out into the world, into the tensions of the metropolises of Berlin, Istanbul and Mumbai.

In her fifth novel, "The Receiver" (Klett-Cotta 2020), Ulla Lenze deals with a  historical topic for the first time (an American German in the clutches of the Nazis). The novel was translated into twelve languages. In her current novel, "The Well-Being" (Klett-Cotta 2024), she again devotes herself to a historical subject: the Beelitz workers' sanatorium up to the present day; "a novel of the century about the power of healing."


Ulla Lenze's reading tours have taken her to the USA, Indonesia, Australia, Iran and Iraq, at the invitation of the Goethe Institute and the Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2016, she took part in a conference for Iraqi women writers in Basra.

Since 2017, Ulla Lenze has been part of the literary project "Weiter Schreiben", which connects authors from conflict regions with German-speaking authors.

Ulla Lenze also works as a moderator of readings and she leads writing workshops (Narrativa, Jürgen Ponto Foundation, Literaturbüro NRW, Literary Summer Academy Schrobenhausen, University of Venice, Dartmouth College).

Awards and prizes (selection)

2020 Writer in Residence Bonn 

2020 Literature Prize of the City of Krefeld

2019 Fellowship from the German Literature Fund for "The Radio Operator"

2019 Residency Kulturakademie Tarabya (Istanbul)

2018 Scholarship from the Berlin Senate

2016 Literature Prize of the Cultural Circle of German Business

2015 Alfred Döblin Scholarship

2014 Venice Scholarship of the Berlin Senate

2012 Scholarship holder of the Heinrich-Heine-Haus Lüneburg

2010 Writer-in-Residence in Mumbai (Goethe Institute)

2009 Residency Istanbul (Cologne Cultural Office).

2005 Working scholarship from the Kunststiftung NRW

2004 City Writer in Damascus (Goethe Institute)

2003 Ernst Willner Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition

         Jürgen Ponto Prize for the best novel debut 2003,

         Rolf-Dieter-Brinkmann-Award of the City of Cologne

2002 Scholarship “Authors’ Workshop Prose” from the Literary Colloquium Berlin

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