John Grisham

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John Grisham (2009)

John Ray Grisham Jr. (born February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro , Arkansas ) is a best-selling American author, lawyer and Democratic politician. He primarily writes legal thrillers and detective novels , which have a total circulation of 275 million copies and have appeared in 42 languages.


John Grisham's father was a construction worker and his mother a housewife. He has four siblings. As a child, John Grisham dreamed of playing baseball professionally . When he realized that his skills would not be enough, he began to study accounting at Mississippi State University ; he then studied law at the University of Mississippi . He graduated from law school in 1981 and practiced as a lawyer in Southaven , DeSoto County , for nearly a decade . He specialized in criminal defense and assault litigation . In 1983 he was the candidate of the Democratic Party in the Mississippi House of Representatives voted, which he belonged to the 1990th

After witnessing the testimony of an underage rape victim in DeSoto County Court, Grisham began writing a novel about what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailant. Grisham got up at 5 a.m. each day to write for several hours before going to work. It took him three years to complete Die Jury ( A Time to Kill ) in 1988. His manuscript, initially rejected by more than two dozen publishers, was eventually bought by Wynwood press and published in June 1989 with a print run of 5,000 copies.

The day Grisham finished working on The Jury , he began his second novel: This tells the story of a promising young lawyer who is hired by a seemingly perfect law firm that is not what it appears to be . When John Grisham film rights to the novel The company ( The Firm ) for $ 600,000 at Paramount Pictures sold, he was suddenly in great demand among publishers, and Doubleday bought the publishing rights. The company became the best-selling novel in 1991 and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 47 weeks .

In the spring of 1991 Grisham gave up his profession as a lawyer and his political offices to work only as a writer . According to his own statements, Grisham did not like working as a lawyer anyway: “For lawyers, the main dream of escape is [to] get out of the profession. They dream about a big settlement, a home run, so that they can use the money to do something else. ”He also felt that way:“ I found myself… representing people I didn't really like in cases that were boring. "

The successes of the Act (The Pelican Brief) , the No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list reached, and the client (The client), which debuted at No. 1, confirmed John Grisham's reputation as a master of modern justice thriller. In each of these three bestsellers , he chose the motif of idealistic , young lawyers who are in conflict with unscrupulous representatives of the legal establishment . Its success ensured that Die Jury , republished, was still a sales success.

Since John Grisham first published The Company in 1991 , he has written a book every year. All of them became bestsellers, so in January 1998 Publishers Weekly named him the “best-selling novelist of the 1990s”. By 2008, over 275 million copies of John Grisham books had been printed and translated into 40 languages ​​(as of January 2014); ten books were filmed. In addition, Grisham wrote the script for the baseball film Mickey . The film The Gingerbread Man is based on one of his short stories.

In 1996, Grisham returned to the courtroom as an attorney and sought $ 683,500 in damages for his clients - the highest verdict of his legal career.

In addition to writing legal thrillers, Grisham wrote The Farm in 2001 , The Festival in 2002, and The Coach in 2003 . With his work The Prisoner , published in 2006 , he ventured for the first time to a non-fiction book in which he is concerned with the faithful description of an actual judicial scandal .

In the summer of 2017, Grisham commented on the right-wing extremist demonstrations in his adopted city of Charlottesville . He accused the US President Donald Trump of having encouraged neo-Nazis, racists and fascists through his reactions. It is high time to leave this foolish civil war, which was started by the rich landowners and ended 150 years ago, behind. Because the sin of slavery caused great suffering and injustice to the country. The improvement of living conditions for blacks is now threatening some whites because they are afraid that they will have to give up and share and that there will not be enough for everyone.


Grisham is an active avowed Baptist ; he lives with his wife Renée and their two children Ty and Shea on a farm in Oxford , Mississippi, and a plantation near Charlottesville , Virginia , where he can write in peace. He has also remained loyal to the sport of baseball, his youthful passion: Grisham acts as his son's baseball coach and as a representative of the local youth baseball league. The six playing fields that he had built on his property serve 350 children in 26 junior teams as training grounds. Grisham traveled to Brazil several times with people from his church to work in charitable institutions.


Justice novels

Other novels

  • 2001: The Farm ( A Painted House )
  • 2002: Das Fest ( Skipping Christmas )
  • 2004: The Coach ( Bleachers )
  • 2007: Touchdown ( Playing for Pizza )
  • 2012: Home Run ( Calico Joe )
  • 2017: The Original ( Camino Island )
  • 2020: The manuscript ( Camino Winds ) - will be published in German on August 31, 2020

Theo Boone series of books for young people

  • 2010: Theo Boone and the Invisible Witness ( Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer )
  • 2011: Theo Boone and the missing girl ( Theodore Boone: The Abduction )
  • 2012: Theo Boone - Under Suspicion ( Theodore Boone: The Accused )
  • 2013: Theo Boone - The Robbery ( Theodore Boone: The Activist )
  • 2015: Theo Boone and the escaped murderer ( Theodore Boone: The Fugitive )
  • 2017: Theo Boone and the Great Deceit ( Theodore Boone: The Scandal )
  • 2019: Caught: a new case for Theo Boone ( Theodore Boone: The Accomplice ) - will be released in German on April 8, 2021


  • 2009: The Law: Stories ( Ford County: Stories )
  • 2016: Der Vertraute ( Partners ) - only published as an e-book
  • 2017: prosecution witnesses ( Witness to a Trial ) - published only as e-books


  • 2006: The Prisoner ( The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town )

Audio books

With the exception of the works

  • The Chamber (1994)
  • The Coach (2004)
  • The Confidante (2016)

all works were used as templates for German-language audio book productions. The audio books were produced in unabridged or abridged versions, occasionally both unabridged and abridged. All readings of the audio books have in common that they were spoken by Charles Brauer as the narrator . The first known audio book production with Charles Brauer was in 1989, the last so far in 2018 - so Brauer has been playing this role for almost 30 years. The vast majority of the productions are published by Random House Audio .

The works of the youth book series “Theo Boone” were produced in unabridged readings as audio books with the narrator Oliver Rohrbeck from Random House Audio and published on his label “cbj audio”.

Film adaptations


TV series

  • 1995-1996: The client ( The client ), one season with 20 episodes
  • 2003: The Street Lawyer , a pilot episode (not released in Germany)
  • 2012: The Firm (TV version as a continuation of the novel of the same name, 22 episodes)

Secondary literature

  • Bernd J. Hartmann: The study of law with John Grisham. In: New legal weekly . CH Beck, Munich 2003, pp. 626-629.
  • Mel Koler: Art. Grisham, John. In: Roger Matuz (Ed.): Contemporary Southern Writers. St. James Press, 1999, pp. 171 f., ISBN 1-55862-370-1 .
  • Mary Beth Pringle: John Grisham: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press, 1997, ISBN 0-313-29637-5 .
  • Nancy Best: Literary Companion to Contemporary Authors - John Grisham. Greenhaven Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7377-1664-9 .
  • Robyn M. Weaver: John Grisham. Lucent Books, 1999, ISBN 1-56006-530-3 .

Web links

Commons : John Grisham  - Collection of Images

References and comments

  1. ^ Pringle: Grisham, p. 3.
  2. Quoted from Mel Gussow, John Grisham, New York Times, March 31, 1997, p. C11. See also the interview with Mark Harris, “Attorney's Privileges”, Entertainment Weekly No. 273 of May 5, 1995, p. 38: “[M] ost lawyers would rather be doing something else”, and the quote from Robyn M. Weaver, John Grisham , 1999, p. 58 (“Lawyers dream about escaping, preferably with the money.”)
  3. Quoted from Joanne Kaufman, Law and Author: Grisham's Next Case, Wall Street Journal, March 10, 1992, p. A16.
  4. Andreas Zielke: A bad, bloody wrestling. Der Spiegel , June 6, 1994, accessed April 24, 2020 .
  6. Willi Winkler: “Donald Trump encouraged the fascists. Writer John Grisham is probably the best-known citizen of Charlottesville, the city that came into the focus of the world public because of the Nazi rallies. He says that many in the southern states see themselves threatened by the social rise of blacks. ”Interview, Tages-Anzeiger , Tamedia , Zurich, August 24, 2017, p. 33.
    The interview was published on August 22, 2017 in the Süddeutsche Zeitung , P. 9
  7. See about his speech in 2008: Novelist Grisham calls fellow Baptists to respect diversity .
  8. ^ Author John Grisham joins lineup of New Baptist Convenant speakers - Baptist News Global. Retrieved July 7, 2018 (American English).
  9. Brief description of John Grisham on the website
  10. Deutschlandradio Kultur from September 9, 2010: The US author John Grisham reads from his new book “Das Gesetz” in Hamburg and Munich