Juli Zeh was born 1974 in Bonn. She studied law from 1993 till 1998 in Passau and Leipzig. Even before the bar exam, she began studies at the Institute for German Literature in Leipzig, which she completed in 2000. In 2001 her first novel, Adler und Engel, was published, followed by Spieltrieb (2004) and, in 2007, Schilf. Additionally, Zeh has published children's books, short stories and essays. In 2016 her novel Unterleuten became a major bestseller. The same goes for her subsequent novels Leere Herzen (2017), Neujahr (2018) und Über Menschen (2021).
For her work she has received numerous awards, among others the German Book Price 2002, Ernst Toller Award 2003, Per Olov Enquist Award 2005, Carl-Amery-Award 2009, Gerty-Spies-Award 2009, Solothurner Literature Award 2009, Thomas-Mann-Preis 2013, Hoffmann-von-Fallersleben-Award 2014, the Hildegard-von-Bingen-Award 2015, the German-Polish Samuel-Bogumil-Linde-Award for Literature 2017, the Literature Award of the Stahlstiftung Eisenhüttenstadt 2017 and the Heinrich-Böll-Preisof the city Cologne 2019.
In 2018 she was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz.
Following several residencies in foreign countries, she received a PhD in international law in 2010 at the University of Saarbrücken.
Juli Zeh's novels are published by Luchterhand Literaturverlag Munich / Penguin Random House and have been translated into more than 30 languages.