Iris Hanika (née en 1962) est née à Würzburg et a grandi à Bad Königshofen. Elle a étudié la littérature universelle et comparée à Berlin ou elle vit depuis 1979. Elle a écrit son premier livre en 1989. Depuis 1998 elle écrit des critiques littéraires de livres politiques pour le journal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Elle a été une des premières journalistes indépendantes à travailler pour le Berlin Pages, le supplément du Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung pour la capitale. De 2000 à 2008 Hanika a écrit pour le magazine Merkur. En 2006 elle a reçu le prix littéraire Hans Fallada pour les jeunes auteurs du monde germanophone et en 2011 elle a reçu le prix de Litera Tour Nord pour son roman "Das Eigentliche".
Pour Hans Frambach ce qui importe le plus ce sont les crimes des Nazis qui le font souffrir depuis son plus jeune âge. C’est à cause de cette préoccupation qu’il a décidé de travailler en tant que secrétaire général de l’Institut pour la gestion de l’histoire. Pour sa meilleure amie Graziela c’est le fait de ne pas pouvoir donner un sens au passé qui compte – jusqu’au moment où elle rencontre un homme qui la désire. A partir de là, les plaisirs physiques deviennent prioritaires. Au fur et à mesure que l’histoire avance, elle traite de l’importance que l’histoire peut jouer dans la vie d’une personne. Peut-on considérer le passé Nazi responsable de tout ? N’est-ce pas simplement leur incapacité à être heureux qui fait de Hans et Graziela des personnages si étranges? Iris Hanika montre comment les crimes Nazis touchent encore l’Allemagne d’aujourd’hui tout en réfléchissant à l’absurdité des commémorations officielles et à notre impuissance face à ces crimes.
Institute for the Management of the Past, held his plastic employee-card against the card-reader next to the entrance till he heard a soft click, opened the door to the archive and stepped into the familiar reception area, a cube of cold light. The neon tubes, humming gently to themselves on the ceiling, illuminated every inch of the room and lent an icy shine to Frau Kermer’s groomed, blonde hair, which flowed down to her elbows. She made sure her hair remained motionless at all times and sometimes looked like a statue, a gleaming Greeting Buddha. But mostly like the dragon defending the cave. Or the guardian of the grail. And sometimes like the beast of Buchenwald. He turned the corners of his mouth up in a manner which could be interpreted as a smile. In fact it had to be interpreted that way. He observed social mores rigorously and turned up the corners of his mouth for this exact reason; this was the way a human being smiled. ‘Good morning, Frau Kermer,’ he said, and turned straight to the coat stand, the corners of his mouth immediately dropping back where they belonged. While he hung up his coat with the utmost precision, Frau Kermer wished his back a good morning. He inserted a hanger into the coat’s shoulders so that it hung with perfect symmetry upon it and returned the hanger to the rack, taking care that his coat hung as freely as possible, barely touching the coat stand and certainly not Frau Kermer’s coat, already hanging there. He bent down, took his briefcase from between his gripped legs and held it against his belly with his left arm, then ran his left hand through his hair as he straightened himself. Frau Kermer had clearly been watching throughout; as he turned to go, she flung a grappling hook after him. ‘Herr Frambach!’ She wrenched him back, he briefly lost his balance and, as she began to speak, he was unable to prevent himself turning the corners of his mouth up again. It happened automatically. ‘Herr Marschner has requested that you be available from half past eleven onwards. He has something to discuss with you.’ Frambach nodded. ‘When does he arrive then?’ he asked, in order to make conversation and give the corners of his mouth a rest. ‘Around eleven,’ Frau Kermer said. Frambach nodded again. His smile, which Frau Kermer had not reciprocated, was digging deeper and deeper into his face and now hurt. Marschner knew of course that it was highly unlikely he would fail to find Frambach in the institute any time within core working hours; after all he sat at his desk faithfully from dawn till dusk each day feeding one paper after another into the archives, and never had external engagements.