Marcel Beyer grew up in Kiel and Neuss. From 1987 to 1991 he studied German language and literature, English studies and Literary studies at the University of Siegen; in 1992 he obtained a Magister degree with a work on Friederike Mayröcker. Since 1987 he has developed Performance art. From 1989 he published with Karl Riha the series Vergessene Autoren der Moderne (Forgotten Authors of the Modern style) at the University of Siegen.
From 1990 to 1993 he worked as editor on the literary magazine Konzepte; from 1992 to 1998 he was a contributor to the music magazine Spex . In 1996 and 1998 he was writer in residence at University College London and the University of Warwick in Coventry. Beyer lived until 1996 in Cologne, and since then in Dresden. He is a visiting professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee.
From early on Beyer, strongly influenced by Friederike Mayröcker and the authors of the French Nouveau Roman, was a writer of lyric poetry and novels, always taking an idiosyncratic view of German history, in particular the Third Reich era.