Douglas Coupland

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Douglas Coupland, 2013

Douglas Campbell Coupland (born December 30, 1961 in Rheinmünster-Söllingen ) is a Canadian writer and visual artist . His narrative work is complemented by an internationally recognized activity as a designer and visual artist . His first novel Generation X , published in 1991, became an international bestseller, introducing terms like McJob and Generation X into common usage. A common feature of Coupland's novels and short stories is their synthesis of postmodern religiosity, Web 2.0 , sexuality, and pop culture .

Coupland lives with his partner David Weir in West Vancouver , British Columbia . He has now published 15 novels and written a biography about Marshall McLuhan . Coupland was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2006 and 2010, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2009 and the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize in 2011 for his biography on McLuhan . In 2009, the British newspaper The Guardian included two of his stories, Girlfriend in a Coma and Microslaves, in its list of 1000 must-read novels. In 2013, Coupland was awarded the Order of Canada , the highest distinction Canadian civilians can receive.


Digital Orca , sculpture by Douglas Coupland in Vancouver

Douglas Coupland was born on a NATO base in Germany. He was the second of four sons, his father Charles Thomas Coupland was employed in the medical service of the Royal Canadian Air Force , his mother C. Janet Coupland was a housewife and had a degree in comparative religion from McGill University . The family returned to Canada in 1965, where the father opened a doctor's office. Coupland grew up accordingly in Vancouver , British Columbia . Coupland has described his family background as extremely religious. After graduating from high school, he went to McGill University to study science like his father. However, he dropped out after a year and returned to Vancouver, where he graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design with a degree in sculpture in 1984 . Of his time at the college on Granville Island , he later said:

“I… had the best four years of my life there. It was the one place where I felt really and completely at home. It was a magical era between hippies and PC nerds. Everyone spoke to everyone and you could ask everyone anything. "

Sojourns abroad in Italy and Japan followed until 1986. Coupland attended courses in product design at the University of Hokkaidō . He then managed to establish himself as a designer in Tokyo. He returned to Canada for health reasons. There he exhibited his work in 1987 under the title "The Floating World" at the Vancouver Art Gallery. He began writing for local magazines in the late 1980s to fund his work as an artist. This resulted in his first work, Generation X , which suddenly made him famous and made him the mouthpiece of a generation. Numerous other publications underpinned the status of the cult author. In addition, he continues to work on sculptures and installations. In 2004 he created the "Canada House", an installation that dealt with stereotypes of Canadian identity using everyday objects. In 2005 he also wrote the screenplay for the film "Everything's Gone Green". In the same year Coupland came out as gay .

Coupland continues to work as a visual artist. Among other things, he created the sculpture Digital Orca as part of an art project , which was set up in 2010 on Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver .


From 1989 to 1990 Coupland lived in a region of the desert Mojave , there to fulfill a contract with St. Martin's Press, who actually certain that Coupland have to write a nonfiction book about the generation after the baby boomers of the world came. Instead of the non-fiction book, however, a novel that Coupland the title was Generation X was. Initially, the novel did not find a publisher in Canada, but Coupland was finally able to place it with a US publishing house in 1991. The novel was not an immediate success, but gradually gained a large readership who saw their attitude towards life reflected in this novel. Against his own resistance, Coupland gained the reputation of being a spokesman for this consumer-critical segment of the population. The novel Generation X was ultimately a global success, the title became a proverbial term and eponymous for a movement that was repulsed by consumerism. The book describes in anecdotal form the self-discovery process of three exemplary representatives of Generation X and their efforts to oppose increasing commercialization with their own system of values.

Douglas Coupland reads from Eleanor Rigby (San Francisco, 2005)

The novel Shampoo Planet followed in 1992 . It is about the generation that succeeded the Generation X and now commonly referred to as Generation Y is known. It depicts a youth who puts status symbols and career thinking in the foreground, but with this, however, is in clear contradiction to the parents belonging to the hippie generation. Coupland settled permanently in Vancouver shortly after its release. He justified this return to the city of his childhood by saying that he had spent the third decade of his life looking for a place that was a better city than Vancouver, but now realizes that Vancouver is the best possible center of life. Life After God , published in 1993, portrays the existential fears of Generation X episodically. Atomic threats, destruction of the environment, death and the search for God characterize the associatively formed narrative.

In 1995 Coupland published the satirical novel " Microserfs " (from serf, serf ) about the employees of the Microsoft group, which at the same time parodies the IT boom of the nineties. It was published in German in 1996 under the title Microsklaven . The book emerged from a short story about employees of this group, which Coupland had written in 1994 for the then newly founded magazine Wired. While researching microslaves , Coupland lived for a few weeks in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft headquarters, and then for four months in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, to better understand the lives of the people directly involved in the information revolution. He himself compared his research with the approach of the well-known behavioral scientist Dian Fossey . He observed the people living there as intensely and curiously as Dian Fossey observed her gorillas. Anything would have been of interest to him; What they keep in their glove compartment, what kind of fast food they prefer, what posters were hanging in their bedroom. Coupland, who himself came from a religious family, called the "now" orientation of the people he observed particularly striking. Machines are the idols that influence their wishes, hopes, goals and dreams. He said it was particularly astonishing that they did not deal with issues such as death and an afterlife.

In 1996 Coupland published the anthology Polaroids From The Dead , in which he once again examined the social changes of the decade. The various themes Coupland takes up in these essays are a visit to a concert of the Grateful Dead , reflections on the film Harold and Maude , a visit by a German journalist, the anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe, and life in the city of Brentwood at the time of the murder trial of former football player OJ Simpson .

In the same year Coupland was on a promotional tour through Europe for his novel Microslaves . The heavy workload created a phase of life that was characterized by exhaustion and depression. These experiences are also reflected in his next novel Girlfriend in a Coma , which marks a departure from Coupland's laconic writing style. It is an apocalyptic fairy tale that addresses the failed dreams of the protagonists.

In 2004, Eleanor Rigby took up the motif of ionizing radiation again and tells the story of a woman in her mid-thirties whose life breaks off the beaten track, after which her son, whom she gave up for adoption after birth, enters her life after 20 years.

In The Gum Thief , the staff is recruited from the employees and customers of an office supplies wholesale market. The fictional novel "Glove Pond" is woven into the main narrative, which one of the employees writes chapter by chapter based on the events of his colleagues. The main narrative is about two people who have hit rock bottom and become aware of it. Then they take the life that has slipped away back into their hands: one by writing the novel “Glove Pond”, the other by starting a course of study.

2009 Coupland published the novel Generation A . Going back to his debut with Generation X , Coupland is once again attempting to document the lifestyle of an increasingly individualized generation between YouTube, Google and Twitter. For this purpose, the story integrates numerous stylistic and design elements of Web 2.0. The story takes place in the near future: Bees are considered to be extinct worldwide until five people, scattered all over the world, are suddenly stung. Shortly after this incident, the five protagonists are captured in an adventurous way, isolated, and finally brought together in a remote location. It is important to find out what motivated the bees to sting these very people.

In Player One , Coupland describes the meeting of different characters in an airport bar. An incident ensures that people are cut off from the outside world and then change their behavior and attitudes, sometimes drastically.

Awards and nominations


  • Generation X (1991)
    • German: Generation X. Translated by Harald Riemann. Galgenberg, 1992, ISBN 3-87058-120-4 . Also as: Generation X: Stories for an ever faster culture. Translated by Harald Riemann. Structure Digital, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-8412-1614-4 (e-book).
  • Shampoo Planet (1992)
    • German: Shampoo-Planet. Translated by Harald Riemann. Structure, 1994, ISBN 3-351-02272-7 .
  • Microserfs (1995)
  • Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
    • German: Girlfriend in a Coma. Translated by Tina Hohl. Hoffmann and Campe, 1999, ISBN 3-455-01174-8 .
  • Miss Wyoming (1998)
    • German: Miss Wyoming. Translated by Tina Hohl. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-455-01175-6 .
  • All Families Are Psychotic (2001)
    • German: All families are screwed up. Translated by Tina Hohl. Hoffmann and Campe, 2002, ISBN 3-455-01176-4 .
  • God hates Japan (2001)
  • Hey Nostradamus! (2003)
  • Eleanor Rigby (2004)
    • German: Eleanor Rigby. Translated by Tina Hohl. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-455-40007-8 .
  • JPod (2006)
  • The Gum Thief (2007)
  • Generation A (2009)
    • German: Generation A. Translated by Clara Drechsler and Harald Hellmann. Tropen (Klett-Cotta Tropen # 50110), 2010, ISBN 978-3-608-50110-0 .
  • Player One: What Is to Become of Us: A Novel in Five Hours (2010)
    • German: Player one: novel in 5 hours. Translated by Clara Drechsler and Harald Hellmann. Tropics, 2013, ISBN 978-3-608-50114-8 .
  • Worst. Person. Ever. (2013)
  • Life After God (1994)
    • German: Life after God: The stories of Generation X. Translated by Harald Riemann. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-351-02335-9 .
  • Polaroids from the Dead (1996)
    • German: American Polaroids. Translated by Tina Hohl. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-455-11123-8 .
  • Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (2011; with Graham Roumieu)
  • Bit Red (2015)
    • German: Bit Rot: Reports from the dissolving world. Translated by Clara Drechsler and Harald Hellmann. Blumenbar, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-351-05070-2 .
Short stories


  • 1,000 Years (Life After God) (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • Gettysburg (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • In the Desert (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • Little Creatures (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • My Hotel Year (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • Patty Hearst (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • Things That Fly (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )
  • The Wrong Sun (1994, in: Douglas Coupland: Life After God )


  • Shopping Is Not Creating (1997, in: Fred G. Leebron, Paula Geyh and Andrew Levy (Eds.): Postmodern American Fiction )


  • Fire at the Ativan Factory (1998, in: Sarah Champion (Ed.): Disco 2000 )
    • German: expulsion of the century. Translated by Volker Oldenburg. In: Sarah Champion (ed.): The last night of the millennium. Rowohlt rororo # 22587, 1999, ISBN 3-499-22587-5 .


  • Survivor (2010, in: Zsuzsi Gartner (Ed.): Darwin's Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow )


  • Andy Warhol (2013, in: Dan Crowe (Ed.): Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons )
  • Lara's Book: Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Phenomenon (1998)
  • Souvenir of Canada (2002)
  • City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver (2003)
  • Souvenir of Canada 2 (2004)
  • Terry: Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope (2005)
  • Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! (2010)
  • Shopping in Jail: Ideas, Essays, and Stories For the Increasingly Real Twenty-First Century (2013)
  • Kitten Clone: ​​Inside Alcatel-Lucent (2014; also: Kitten Clone: ​​The History of the Future at Bell Labs , 2015)
  • The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present (2015)
  • Life After God: The Play (2008; with Michael Lewis MacLennan)

Web links

Commons : Douglas Coupland  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Single receipts

  1. Steven Kurutz: Saving the House Next Door . In: The New York Times . Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ Extraordinary Canadians. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on March 7, 2011 ; Retrieved February 3, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ John Vaillant, Douglas Coupland among writers nominated for BC Book Prizes | Afterword | National Post. (No longer available online.), March 10, 2011, archived from the original January 14, 2012 ; Retrieved February 3, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ BC Book Prizes., accessed February 3, 2014 .
  5. 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: The Definitive List , accessed February 4, 2014.
  6. see list of closed Canadian military locations in Germany
  7. Wark, Penny, "Trawling for Columbine". The Times , September 12th, 2003.
  8. Colman, David. "Take a Sharp Turn at Fiorucci". The New York Times , September 30, 2007.
  9. Jackson, Alan. "I didn't get where I am today without ..." The Times , June 17, 2006. The original quote is: "I ... had the best four years of my life. It's the one place I've felt truly, totally at home. It was a magic era between the hippies and the PC goon squads. Everyone talked to everyone and you could ask anybody anything. "
  10. ^ "The week in Reviews: Talkin 'about his generation". The Observer , April 26, 1998.
  11. Barker, Pat. "Behind the Lines". The Times , October 9, 2007.
  12. a b Dafoe, Chris. "Carving a profile from a forgotten generation". The Globe and Mail , Nov. 9, 1991
  13. McLaren, Leah. "Birdman of BC". Globe and Mail, September 28, 2006.
  14. Muro, Mark. "'Baby Busters' resent life in Boomers' debris". The Boston Globe , November 10, 1991.
  15. ^ Soriano, Cesar G. "DATELINE: Cyberspace and New York," The Washington Times , June 28, 1995
  16. ^ Kate Folmar, "Channeling the Lives of Silicon Valley," The Globe and Mail, June 1, 1995
  17. ^ Jon Courtenay Grimwood, "Nerds of the Cyberstocracy". The Independent , November 13, 1995
  18. ^ The New York Times Interview, Sept. 9, 1994
  19. McClellan, Jim. "The Geek Factory". The Observer , November 12, 1995
  20. Stephen Smith: Dictators and comas . The Globe and Mail, March 14, 1998
  21. ^ "Dealing with the X factor". The Age , July 30, 2005