Renowned Swiss Author Pascal Mercier, Known for ‘Night Train to Lisbon,’ Passes Away at 79

Renowned Swiss writer Peter Bieri, widely known by his pseudonym Pascal Mercier, has passed away, as announced by Hanser publishing house on Tuesday. The 79-year-old author, who had been residing in Berlin, leaves behind a legacy of thought-provoking novels and philosophical works.

Bieri’s breakthrough came with his novel “Night Train to Lisbon,” published in 2004, which later gained international acclaim. The book, which tells the story of a Swiss professor’s journey of self-discovery, resonated with readers worldwide and was translated into over 40 languages. It was adapted into a film nearly a decade after its publication and had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2013.

Bieri’s literary works seamlessly intertwined with his philosophical musings throughout his career. In addition to his novels, he penned numerous philosophical books, including his 2013 publication “A Way to Live: About the Diversity of Human Dignity.” Bieri’s writing captured the essence of the human experience, exploring profound questions and bringing them to life through engaging storytelling.

Jo Lendle, the publisher, sincerely appreciated Bieri’s contributions, stating, “We are losing a great thinker and novelist. Peter Bieri has shown in his name and under his nom de plume all his life how thoughts and stories inspire each other.” Lendle acknowledged the symbiotic relationship between Bieri’s philosophical and narrative works, emphasizing how his novels breathed life into profound human inquiries.

Tobias Heyl, Bieri’s editor, described him as a powerful and eloquent author who embraced the intricacies of language. Heyl commended Bieri’s unwavering belief in books’ transformative power and ability to engage readers across languages and cultures.

Although Bieri leaves no children behind, he never avoided embracing his unconventional stance on parenthood. In an interview with “Cicero,” he candidly shared his decision, stating, “I never wanted children. Because I would never have had the firmness, overview, and flexibility to do justice to children.”

Peter Bieri, who adopted the pseudonym Pascal Mercier for his literary pursuits, was a prolific writer and held a professorship at the Free University in Berlin for many years. His profound understanding of philosophy, mind, knowledge, and language resonated throughout his works, allowing him to craft novels that blended introspection and storytelling skillfully.

“The Weight of Words,” Bieri’s final novel published in 2020 under the name Pascal Mercier, continued his exploration of reinvention and self-discovery. Through the protagonist’s transformative journey, Bieri delved into themes of personal growth and pursuing one’s true path.

Peter Bieri, known to the literary world as Pascal Mercier, began his literary career relatively late, at 51. Despite the delayed start, he significantly impacted the literary landscape, leaving behind a remarkable body of work. His passing on June 27 in Berlin marks the end of an era, but his thought-provoking novels and philosophical insights will continue to inspire readers for generations to come.