Daniel Schreiber


„To capture Sontag’s life and spirit by honoring her dimensionality, then, is a monumental task, but one which Berlin-based writer and art critic Daniel Schreiber accomplishes with enormous elegance in the long-awaited Susan Sontag: A Biography.(…) Schreiber’s book is a spectacular read.“ Maria Popova, brainpickings.org, 06.08.2014

„Schreiber’s Susan Sontag focuses on this fame, on its subject as a public figure. What we get is a sort of concept of Sontag, a sketch of the life she lived in context. The book’s particular strength lies in examining the seams where Sontag’s personal and public lives meet — it is a biography from the outside, but not far outside. Above all, it is lucid, respectful, considered. At times, Schreiber’s approach is nearly timid, a summary of shifting allegiances, tentative estimations of her work — it could have been subtitled Against Interpretation. Our windfall from this approach, though, is precisely in the extended suspension of judgment that Schreiber so cautiously preserves. Ambivalence is a gift. Ambivalence is a space that is normally denied to us in public discourse, one in which our thoughts can have time to develop. This biography will not make you understand Sontag, but it will create a framework for you to develop a fuller understanding; the only portrait that is not polemic is one of ambivalence, and Sontag’s divisive nature means that we need desperately this.“ Los Angeles Review of Books, 10.03.2015

„Schreiber, a Berlin-based art and literary critic, is wary of the ways in which Sontag created a mythology for herself. His account of her life and work, which was originally published in Germany, in 2007, calls attention to her “flair for self-dramatization,” her youthful “determination to be an intellectual,” and “the aura of genius in which Sontag consciously wrapped herself later in life“. The New Yorker, 01.08.2014

„A sensitive, cleareyed biography of an intellectual star … Schreiber’s intelligent reading of Sontag’s works and his fair and balanced handling of the impassioned controversies she generated admirably serve both his subject and his readers.“ Kirkus Review, 01.06.2014

„Sontag was famous for writings on film, photography and philosophy, as well as for the striking photographs of her that appeared in publications like Vogue and Mademoiselle, which once led Mary Ellmann to call her the „Chanel of the arts.“ Mr. Schreiber’s book, translated from the German by David Dollenmayer, presents an opportunity to ask what it adds up to—aside from a sort of intellectual glamour. And, not least, how did Susan Sontag become „Susan Sontag“?“ Wall Street Journal, 13.08.2014

„Prior to this short but incisive new tome by Daniel Schreiber, the only extant biography was 2000’s Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon by Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock, an unauthorised and unsympathetic affair, with the authors‘ neoconservative lens compounding their personal and political animosity. Growing out of an obituary Schreiber wrote after Sontag’s death in December 2004, he strives here to set the record straight. So, who was she?“ The Independent, 10.11.2014

„Daniel Schreiber’s new biography, Susan Sontag, captures the essence of the author (…) With fewer than 300 pages, the book is a compact, clear-eyed primer that views the remarkable path of the writer’s life.“ The Columbus Dispatch, 17.08.2014

„A decade after National Book Award winner Susan Sontag’s death, German critic Schreiber presents a supple biography focused primarily on her life of the mind. (…) Just as Sontag embraced European sensibilities, Schreiber brings a European perspective to his analysis of the complexities of Sontag’s fiery temperament, adventurously creative life, and profound achievements.“ Booklist, 01.07.2014

„An engaging and fascinating life story (…)“ Gay and Lesbian Review, 26.06. 2014

„In this intriguing biography, Schreiber examines Sontag’s life—the precocious adolescent reading Thomas Mann, the liberated graduate student intoxicated with Paris, the determined single parent making her way in New York City, and the celebrated writer famous for essays and glamour combined with great intellect. Schreiber’s careful reading of Sontag’s diaries, journals, interviews, and correspondence allows him to write authoritatively about her life and oeuvre. (…) Sontag enthusiasts and all readers interested in literary and popular culture of the 20th century will enjoy this title.“ Library Journal Review, 03.08.2014

„In this crisp and dispassionate biography German critic Schreiber describes his subject’s life – what Sontag herself called a project – as a series of self-inventions (…) He offers strong, brief analysis of her influential publications and broad, competent summaries of the cultural movements during her life (…) and resists romanticizing his subject.“ Publishers Weekly, 14.04.2014

„The first biography since her death in 2004, Susan Sontag: A Biography by Daniel Schreiber, gives a straightforward account of a very complex life. Schreiber organizes the material in comprehensible, short chapters on Sontag who lived several lives at once at the heart of the second half of the twentieth century uniquely on her own terms while engaging fully — and experimentally —with the era’s cultural changes.“ New Pages Book Review, 01.07.2014