Peter Handke (born 6 December 1942, in Griffen, Austria) is an avant-garde Austrian novelist and playwright.
Ever the enfant terrible, Peter Handke exemplifies the complexity of writing as an Austrian in the post WW2 period, and his work has continually provoked controversy and outrage on a variety of fronts.
While studying, he established himself as writer, linking up with the Grazer Gruppe (the Graz Authors' Assembly), an association of young writers. The group published the literary digest manuskripte. Both Elfriede Jelinek and Barbara Frischmuth were among its members.
Handke abandoned his studies in 1965, when the German Suhrkamp Verlag accepted his novel Die Hornissen (The Hornets) for publication.
He gained popular attention after a spectacular appearance at a meeting of avant garde artists belonging to the Gruppe 47 in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., where he presented his play Publikumsbeschimpfung (Offending the Audience).
When Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004, she stated that she considered Peter Handke a more worthy recipient than herself and that she had been awarded the prize merely because she is female.
In 1996 his travelogue Eine winterliche Reise zu den Fl?ssen Donau, Save, Morawa und Drina oder Gerechtigkeit f?r Serbien (A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia) created considerable controversy, as Handke portrayed Serbia among the victims of the Balkan War. In the same essay, Handke also frontally attacked Western media for misrepresenting the causes and consequences of the war. This controversy still rages.
In 2006 Handke was nominated for the Heinrich Heine Prize, but the prize money of ?50,000 is subject to approval by the city council of D?sseldorf. Members of the council's major parties stated they would vote against awarding the prize to Handke, resulting in the prize being withdrawn.