Norman Ohler was born in the German town of Zweibrücken, close to the French border, in 1970. After completing High School, he wrote his first novella »Reporter« in 1990. At the age of 22, Ohler attended the renowned Hamburg Journalist School, then published articles in the magazines »Spiegel«, »Stern«, »Geo«, and »DIE ZEIT«. In 1993, Ohler moved to New York, where he co-founded Tribes Gallery in Lower Manhattan in 1994.
In New York, Ohler worked on his first novel »Die Quotenmaschine« (tr. The quota machine), the story of the mute detective Maxx Rutenberg. Ohler published his novel in 1995, complete with hyperlinks. »Die Quotenmaschine« is regarded as the first hyper-text novel worldwide. In 1996, it was published in hardcover in Germany and Spain.
Ohler’s next base, a run-down apartment in an old derelict building situated in Berlin’s Mitte district and slated for demolition, was the starting point for his second novel: »Mitte« (2001), a ghost story about gentrification. Klinger, a disillusioned Internet specialist moves from London to Berlin in search of solitude, only to encounter a strange roommate: Igor, who burned to death in the very apartment Klinger moves to. Slowly Klinger finds out about Igor's devilish plan to convert the building into a giant loudspeaker in order to emanate deadly infrasound that will stop gentrification.
During a scholarship in 1999, Ohler started to work on his third novel »Ponte City«. It tells the story of the German journalist Kraner who flies to Johannesburg, South Africa, and falls in love with a woman from Soweto who, at the end of Apartheid, was arrested as a drug courier in the US, and is now looking for revenge. »Ponte City« is an urban adventure novel and exciting portrait of a city on edge.
»Die Quotenmaschine«, »Mitte«, and »Ponte City« form Ohler's City Trilogy.
In 2004, while holding the post of City Writer in Ramallah, Palestine, he was the last European to interview Yassir Arafat before his death. In 2006 he travelled through Iran and produced a podcast about his visits to Teheran, Shiraz, Yazd, and Isfahan.
Norman Ohler is a member of the PEN-Club.
In film, Ohler collaborated with Wim Wenders writing the script for »Palermo shooting«, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2008. Two years later he wrote, directed, and produced his own first short film, »natural«, starring Henry Hopper and Eva Bay.
After five years of research, his first nonfiction book, »Der totale Rausch« (tr. Blitzed), about the role of drugs in Nazi-Germany, appeared in 2015, and immediately became a world-wide phenomena, translated into over 25 languages.