Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966, and grew up both there and in Paris. Later, she studied Law and German at the University of Melbourne. She is fluent in German and French.
In 1987, Anna Funder was awarded a DAAD scholarship (German Academic Exchange Service), which enabled her to study at the Freie Universität in Berlin. There she came into contact with former residents of East Germany and began to wonder what life was like on the other side of the Wall.
Funder went on to work as a documentary producer for ABC in Australia, and as a researcher and translator for Deutsche Welle Television. Presented with the Felix Meyer Creative Writing award, the Australian German Association Fellowship, an Arts Victoria literature grant, and the position of Writer-in-Residence at the Australia Centre within the University of Potsdam, she was able to write her first book: Stasiland. It opens with her return to Berlin in 1996, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communist East Germany. Through various interviews – from covert meetings behind blacked-out windows, to extended drinking sessions with friends – she begins to piece together a story.
Stasiland was first published in Australia in 2002, by Text Publishing. Other countries followed, including the UK and USA (Granta) and Holland (Ambo Anthos). A small Berlin house eventually published the book, but on a brief tour in Germany Anna Funder was given a hostile reception – she writes about it here. A fascinating article from the Sydney Pen Magazine (p20) explores the complications involved in translating Stasiland into German.
Anna Funder lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters. She is working on a novel.