Very close to today
Be it with utopian visions of the world or portraits of Berlin millennials – the novels by the writer Leif Randt illuminate the present. Any pop-cultural references, however, arise more from intuition rather than intention, says the author.
Does this author have the potential to start a new youth movement? The weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, could well imagine this happening after reading and discussing the latest novel by Leif Randt. With Allegro Pastell, the author has in fact produced a work that manages to capture the present in a way that can hardly be bettered. In it, Leif describes the love affair and long-distance relationship between a young authoress in Berlin and a web designer in the state of Hesse – their hip lifestyle life with parties, jogging, sex and drugs, restaurant dinners and constant communication via mobile phone.
Randt recently described his fourth novel at the Frankfurter Premieren (Frankfurt Premieres reading event) as a Near-Past-Prosa-Stück (recent past prose piece). In a “simple and realistic way”, he primarily wanted to depict the communication between the characters. Published in 2020 and nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in the same year, the novel, according to critics, puts the author a little closer to representatives of pop literature such as Christian Kracht (Faserland) or Rainald Goetz.
Utopias and word creations
Randt lives partly in the German capital and partly in Maintal, a small town near his birthplace, Frankfurt am Main. It is there, a little away from the banking city, that he has also set substantial parts of his current novel. The author, born in 1983, made his debut in 2009 with his novel Leuchtspielhaus, set in London, and his literary breakthrough came two years later with his second book Schimmernder Dunst über CobyCounty (2011). As in his following book Planet Magnon (2015), he creates a kind of social utopia. Linguistically, his word creations and his camel-cap words, i.e. parts of words linked with capital letters (such as “CobyCounty” or “BakeryExpress”), are striking. Randt also runs the online platform Tegelmedia.net, which, together with his fellow writer Jakob Nolte, regularly features contributions by other authors.
More intuition than theory
Randt studied creative writing and cultural journalism at the University of Hildesheim for five years – “practice-based training,” as he said himself. Far from any academisation, it was all about looking at texts and writing them yourself. Any references to theories such as consumer research or the culture of things, which literary scholars like to find in his works, have thus come about without intention and most of the time purely intuitively. Nevertheless the interpretations do not surprise him: “As we are living in the same time, similar observations arise”, says the writer.