Fiction – Novels, short stories, crime thriller, poetry

    Ursula Ackrill: Zeiden, im Januar © Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, 2015

    Ursula Ackrill
    Zeiden, im Januar

    The narrative core of Zeiden, im Januar focuses on a single day, 21 January 1941. From that day, Ursula Ackrill makes connections extending far back into the past. She examines the mindsets of her compatriots, the Transylvanian Saxons, the German minority in Romania that has always been a pawn of historical developments. Assigned to Hungary in 1867, then to Romania after World War I, this is an ethnic group that experienced the dichotomy of loss of political self-determination on the one hand and unbroken awareness of its own situation on the other.More ...
    Henning Ahrens: Glantz und Gloria. Ein Trip © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Henning Ahrens
    Glantz und Gloria. Ein Trip

    There is no such thing as an evil place, only a dangerous attitude that can manifest itself in fences and other isolation measures. That is what happens in Glantz und Gloria (Glantz and Glory), Ahrens' new book, which bears the subtitle A Trip. Quite rightly so. For after only a few pages of this book, slim but highly dense in terms of its language and motives, the question arises as to whether the narrator has not taken us along on a most horrible nightmarish tour of an insane, dark Germany. A country that springs from pure fantasy yet has much to do with our present situation, especially in the light of the masses of concerned citizens in Freital and other communities.More ...
    Friedrich Ani: Der namenlose Tag © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Friedrich Ani
    Der namenlose Tag

    Friedrich Ani’s latest detective is a retired inspector. Ani has won many crime thriller awards, but cannot be comfortably categorised as a writer of so-called crime thrillers. It is by no means the case that people are always killed in his books. Sometimes, there is not even a crime, and policemen are often only marginal characters. Jakob Franck, Ani’s new hero, is no longer a policeman and he must also have been an exceptional character when he was still in his job as a detective. Since he has a special gift of empathy, it was one of Franck’s unspoken tasks to inform the members of the family of the death of a loved one.More ...
    Antonia Baum: Ich wuchs auf dem Schrottplatz auf, wo ich lernte, mich von Radkappen und Stossstangen zu ernähren © Hoffmann und Campe Verlag Hamburg, 2015

    Antonia Baum
    Ich wuchs auf dem Schrottplatz auf, wo ich lernte, mich von Radkappen und Stossstangen zu ernähren

    Romy, Clint and Jonny do not have a mother. And they sometimes do not know if they have a father either. Although they call their dead mother Mum, Theodor is always just called Theodor. He is a doctor, artist, criminal, anarchist and car mechanic, but not the kind of father the children would wish for. The house where the family lives is pure chaos, and when the youth welfare office gets involved, Romy, from whose point of view the story is told, worries how Theodor would manage without her if they had to go into a home. (…)More ...
    Nora Bossong: 36,9 Grad © Carl Hanser Verlag Munich, 2015

    Nora Bossong
    36,9 Grad

    "Now, after trotting alongside Gramsci all my life, after he had covered me up, kicked me, forced me into narrow confines, now it was time that he supported me for once, just once at least." This heartfelt desire of Gramsci researcher Anton Stöver, the second hero in Nora Bossong’s new novel, her fourth, is not to be fulfilled. Antonio Gramsci was the legendary chief ideologue of the Italian Communist Party. Of all Mussolini’s political opponents, Gramsci, a member of parliament, was the one he feared the most. Mussolini had him arrested in November 1926 and left him to waste away in prison for ten years; Gramsci was unable to do anything to help himself.More ...
    Thomas Brussig: Das gibts in keinem Russenfilm © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Thomas Brussig
    Das gibts in keinem Russenfilm

    People in the East used to say: That would never happen in a Russian film. Which meant that it was much more chaotic and hair-raising than what one would expect to happen in East Germany in any case. That was unfair towards Soviet cinema, of course. But that was of no particular concern. In the East, people lived in a vigorous culture of prejudice.More ...
    Jenny Erpenbeck: Gehen, Ging, Gegangen © Albert Knaus Verlag Munich, 2015

    Jenny Erpenbeck
    Gehen, Ging, Gegangen

    Jenny Erpenbeck has written the book of the moment. The arrival in Germany of overcrowded trains carrying refugees from Hungary, the recovery of bodies from lorries, the degeneration of the Mediterranean into a watery grave, arguments among European governments about their failed asylum policies and a split between concerned and alarmed citizens, helpers and hooligans, coincides with the publication of her fifth novel, which deals with all these issues. It is a sad gift to German literature that Erpenbeck, aged 48, presents us with here. (...)More ...
    Mirna Funk: Winternähe © S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Mirna Funk

    Instead of indulging in an anything-goes morality, Lola, the protagonist of Mirna Funk’s novel Winternähe (Close to Winter), learns from one day to the next to perceive her Jewish roots as the core of her identity. And she does so from a sense of resistance. After being confronted with the trivialisation of the Holocaust on Facebook and at work, Lola, a photographer, decides to give up her previous existence and sets off for Tel Aviv, where she painfully experiences the extent of the Gaza conflict.More ...
    Nora Gomringer: achduje. Sprechtexte © Der gesunde Menschenversand Lucerne, Edition Spoken Script, 2015

    Nora Gomringer
    achduje. Sprechtexte

    Poets who put on prophetic airs have been out of fashion for a long time, But in her book of poetry Klimaforschung (Climate Research), featuring the future-oriented industry of the day in its title, poet Nora Gomringer was persuaded to make a prophesy in spite of herself. In her poem Fortsetzung (Continuation) we read, “Nora Gomringer will one day be a specialist." Right. Because if Gomringer does not go poaching in the hunting grounds of prose as she did this year and manage to pull off the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in Klagenfurt, then she will be the poetry specialist - for racy, mischievous, tongue-in-cheek, self-ironic, humorous poetry.More ...
    Dana Grigorcea: Das primäre Gefühl der Schuldlosigkeit © Dörlemann Verlag Zürich, 2015

    Dana Grigorcea
    Das primäre Gefühl der Schuldlosigkeit

    After years in Switzerland, Victoria returns to her native Romania to carry on working there as a banker, but after a raid on her bank, she has to take leave and to undergo conversation therapy. These talks with a delightful older therapist and journeys through Bucharest with her fiancé become the occasion to tell stories and remember. Countless anecdotes and small scenes flash up higgledy-piggledy, bubbling up out of context and gradually allowing a picture of Romania before the political turnaround to emerge that is practically impossible to define.More ...
    Heinz Helle: Eigentlich müssten wir tanzen © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Heinz Helle
    Eigentlich müssten wir tanzen

    A weekend in Tirol, that was the idea, a group of young men, the old gang, gathering as they so often did at Gruber’s mountain cabin, where all they did was to drink themselves to oblivion. (…) But then they see a distant glow of fire in the valley. Shortly afterwards follows their descent into a devastated landscape – while they were up at the treeline, it was the end of the world down on the plains.
    Heinz Helle’s novel Eigentlich müssten wir tanzen (Euphoria) tells of a long trek, roaming aimlessly, spurred on only by the search for food and remains of human life. The friends gradually become competitors, and every bend in the road could be the last.(…)More ...
    Kat Kaufmann: Superposition © Hoffmann und Campe Verlag Hamburg, 2015

    Kat Kaufmann

    Authenticity is not only just the magic word of the hour, but for some time has been a valuable asset on the book market, especially when the aim is to discover young literary talent. (…) This debut novel by Kat Kaufmann, who was born in St. Petersburg in 1981, has just been awarded the aspekte literature prize. Her short biography informing readers that she now lives and works as a writer, composer and photographer in Berlin may appear at first sight to succumb wonderfully to this postulate of authenticity.More ...
    Steffen Kopetzky: Risiko © Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 2015

    Steffen Kopetzky

    Risiko (Risk) could be called a kind of historical novel. There actually was a secret German expedition to Afghanistan during World War I, the aim of which was to persuade the Afghan Emir Habibullah to join forces with the German Reich and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to fight the British Empire, which meant fostering turmoil in the Indian colony. This was a German-instigated Jihad.More ...
    Dirk Laucke: Mit sozialistischem Grusz © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2015

    Dirk Laucke
    Mit sozialistischem Grusz

    The author, who grew up in Halle an der Saale, invents first-person narrator Philipp from Bitterfeld, aged 20, who applies for a place at a Berlin art academy after competing his school-leaving certificate, but initially is not accepted. He is put on a work creation programme maintaining public green spaces for eight hours a day (...).
    Philipp’s father Hermann is a man of simple means who lost his job and his wife in the wake of the political transformation of 1989. He cares at least as much for his son as he does for himself. And so he types a letter with his stocky old wrestler’s fingers and sends it from Bitterfeld to Margot Honecker in Chile.More ...
    Klaus Modick: Konzert ohne Dichter © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2014

    Klaus Modick
    Konzert ohne Dichter

    Modick has already experimented with a literary re-enactment of the friendship between artists in his novel Sunset, set in California and featuring protagonists Feuchtwanger and Brecht. And yet for him, a native of Oldenburg, the north German milieu is much closer to home than the American settings he often favours. So this time, he has succeeded in writing a quite charming cross between the genres of artist novel and sentimental regional novel, in which the aporia of the blissful Utopian “Worpswede way of life” bounce off the region’s dry humour.More ...
    Matthias Nawrat: Die vielen Tode unseres Opas Jurek © Rowohlt Verlag Reinbek near Hamburg, 2015

    Matthias Nawrat
    Die vielen Tode unseres Opas Jurek

    The influence of Gombrowicz in particular shines through on every page of this book, which is pleasantly sarcastic while also featuring great empathy for human imperfections. One might be tempted to think that this writer was a progressive linguistic artist, an ironist, a lover of the absurd and grotesque, in brief, an unflappable child of postmodernism. (...) Yet Nawrat is first and foremost an Upper Silesian late repatriate child. His family was one of the thousands of would-be emigrants with German roots who managed to leave their native country shortly before the political turnaround to become West German citizens. (...)More ...
    Norbert Niemann: Die Einzigen © Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2014

    Norbert Niemann
    Die Einzigen

    In his novel Norbert Niemann follows a New Wave group from the eighties to today and beyond. What became of the whirring bass runs for whom anything was possible, what became of the concept of undermining mass taste in pop music and breaking up rigid structures? The past is in no way idealised – that is evident on the opening pages.More ...
    Karl-Heinz Ott: Die Auferstehung © Carl Hanser Verlag Munich, 2015

    Karl-Heinz Ott
    Die Auferstehung

    So the father has died and is now lying on a table in the middle of the living room around which his four children have gathered. Uli, Jakob and Joschi came quickly, mainly because that was Linda’s wish. Before a doctor issues the death certificate, she wants to have a strategic conversation with her brothers on reconquering the inheritance thought to have been already lost. In his last years, their father was not only cared for by an Eastern European caregiver. His four children fear that the money that they could well use is already on its way to the Balkans. Time is pressing. The framework of Karl-Heinz Ott’s new book has been laid out. (…)More ...
    Ulrich Peltzer: Das bessere Leben © S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Ulrich Peltzer
    Das bessere Leben

    A middle-aged middle manager, in charge of sales, is laid off after working for the company for fourteen years. His recent performance was not impressive. A big contract in Indonesia – to do with plastic coating plants – did not materialise. What is more, a Chinese rival’s cheap prices are putting pressure on the traditional Italian company the former employer of Jochen Brockmann, the dismissed manager. The company has also been targeted by financial investors who are threatening to take it over and implement brutal restructuring measures. Brockmann has to find a new “challenge” – why not in China?More ...
    Heinz Rein: Finale Berlin © Verlag Schöffling & Co., Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Heinz Rein
    Finale Berlin

    Finale Berlin is set in the Reich capital’s last weeks, from 14 April to 2 May 1945, but Heinz Rein not only gives an account of the battle for Berlin. He also unfolds a panorama of Nazi society. Every type of person comes onto the scene: bigwigs, murderers, hangers-on, people with fantasies and cowards, persecuted people, illegals, disillusioned people, average people, in fact, people like you and I. This is a story of the destruction of Berlin, an angry indictment, a novel that completely grips the reader and will not let him go.More ...
    Peter Richter: 89/90 © Luchterhand Literaturverlag, Munich, 2015

    Peter Richter

    The summer of 1989 is not a bad time to turn sixteen in the east of Germany. The desire for freedom, the mood of upheaval and the anarchy that were in the air and were to sweep through the country a few months later fit in well with a teenager’s state of mind.More ...
    Ralf Rothmann: Im Frühling sterben © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Ralf Rothmann
    Im Frühling sterben

    Silence, deep concealment, especially when the dead are meant, writes Ralf Rothmann right at the beginning of his novel, is ultimately a vacuum that life sooner or later automatically fills with truth. The great silence surrounding the narrator’s father when his son was still a little boy in Oberhausen, however, was not to be filled automatically, but remained unbroken all his life. (...)
    The novel Im Frühling sterben (To Die in Spring) is about this attempt to reconstruct a life whose trauma has been transferred to those born later. (…)More ...
    Rafik Schami: Sophia oder Der Anfang aller Geschichten © Carl Hanser Verlag Munich, 2015

    Rafik Schami
    Sophia oder Der Anfang aller Geschichten

    Rafik Schami, the Syrian who lives in Germany, sets his new great novel in the Syrian capital. Of course any reading of Sophia oder Der Anfang aller Geschichten (Sophia or the Beginning of All Stories) is influenced by the current disaster in the country. But no, this novel does not tell the story of the civil war and does not even touch on the conquests of the Islamic State. But yes, this novel repeatedly shows the torturous homicidal regime that is suppressing the people of Syria. Schami tells the story of Salman, who, like the author, left Syria years ago and is successful in Europe. (…)More ...
    Norbert Scheuer: Die Sprache der Vögel © C. H. Beck Verlag, Munich, 2015

    Norbert Scheuer
    Die Sprache der Vögel

    Paul Arimond, aged 24, is a soldier, a corporal in the ambulance service in the 4th Infantry Battalion. He is one of the young men and women who in 2003 were told that they would be defending “the freedom of this country and the freedom of the Western world” at the Hindukush. But ideological conviction was not Paul’s motive for leaving the Eifel region to go to a distant country.More ...
    Clemens J. Setz: Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Clemens J. Setz
    Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre

    For Natalie, the protagonist of the novel Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre (The Hour between Woman and Guitar), words do not only have colours. The word “bitterly” is “a beautiful, fringed word with gills along the sides”. (...) Natalie is 21 and is starting her first job as a caregiver in a small, private home for people with disabilities. Although she had her last grand mal seizure when she was a child, the epileptic is constantly observing herself. When she bends down, “is she having a brush with death”? When an attack is imminent, does she feel “aura-struck”? She tries to keep her balance by little rituals that have to be constantly reinvented. (...)More ...
    Anke Stelling: Bodentiefe Fenster © Verbrecher Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Anke Stelling
    Bodentiefe Fenste

    Everything Anke Stelling describes in her new novel with the brilliant title Bodentiefe Fenster (Floor-to-Ceiling Window) is utterly convincing. The ferocious battles in the building complex, the “community building”, as they call it. That is exactly what happens in such “projects”, nothing but, as you hear again and again, probably especially in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin’s notorious formerly hip scene, which has had more malice poured over it in the last decade than any other district in any other major city in this country. Quite rightly so, I think.More ...
    Bernhard Strobel: Ein dünner Faden. Erzählungen © Droschl Verlag, Graz, 2015

    Bernhard Strobel
    Ein dünner Faden. Erzählungen

    What is communicated about our wishes and fears when we speak to one another? That the motives underlying our actions often remain unexpressed is something we all know and experience time and again. That is also the experience of the characters in Ein dünner Faden (A Thin Thread). In this book of short stories, Bernhard Strobel, a native Viennese who was born in 1982, devotes his attention to people in everyday situations in an unspecified rural area. Little happens by way of plot; what really matters is never expressed. But it simmers threateningly beneath the surface.More ...
    Martin Suter: Montecristo © Diogenes Verlag, Zürich, 2015

    Martin Suter

    It is no coincidence that Suter’s novel is reminiscent of Dumas' famous story of intrigue and betrayal from post-revolutionary France, at any rate, with regard to the milieu of a corrupt social caste. His protagonist is not a revenant of Dumas' hero Edmond Dantès, of course. Jonas Brand is just someone who, by no fault of his own, becomes entangled in a network of cronyism and crime that extends far beyond his narrow horizons.More ...
    Ilija Trojanow: Macht und Widerstand © S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Ilija Trojanow
    Macht und Widerstand

    Metodi is a representative of the old Communist regime in Bulgaria. As a secret service man, he served loyally for decades, becoming an expert in interrogation techniques and torture methods. Since the political transformation, he has been making good money as a businessman… (…) On the other side, we have Konstantin, an old anarchist, who suffered gaol and prison camp after a bomb attack on a bust of Stalin in 1953 and subsequently led a life under surveillance and as the object of the state security service. The two men have known each other since they were at school together, have met again and again over the decades, each full of contempt for the other’s convictions.More ...
    Jan Wagner: Regentonnenvariationen. Gedichte © Carl Hanser Verlag, Berlin, 2014

    Jan Wagner
    Regentonnenvariationen. Gedichte

    Poets are the shamans among writers. Poems sound out the resonance of words, survey their significance. Poetry is an orchid that smells all the stranger the faster and the more that works are written, printed and flung onto the market. Thus, it was a surprise that Jan Wagner was shortlisted for the Leipzig Book Fair prize for a volume of poetry. The fact that he is now one of five writers to have been awarded the prize in the fiction category is a positive signal. It is a sign of appreciation of a writer who attentively and pleasurably takes possession of our language.More ...
    Anne Weber: Ahnen. Ein Zeitreisetagebuch © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2015

    Anne Weber
    Ahnen. Ein Zeitreisetagebuch

    Anne Weber approaches Florens Christian Rang in a form that leads her to use a quite distinct term to refer to the genre: a “time travel diary”, as she calls it. For in many particulars, she feels her approach to be a journey back in time – her great-grandfather’s date of birth preceded her own by a hundred years. (...)
    Thus, a multi-facetted picture of a German family emerges in which the great-grandfather is shown to be a contradictory, fascinating figure. During World War I, his enthusiasm for the war suddenly changed.More ...
    Michael Wildenhain: Das Lächeln der Alligatoren © Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 2015

    Michael Wildenhain
    Das Lächeln der Alligatoren

    Michael Wildenhain, initially regarded as a chronicler of Kreuzberg, went on to write several novels set in the present. Now he takes us back to the German Autumn, into a heated climate of violence and suspicion. Marta is no longer a caring nurse – she lives in a commune with men who speak in riddles, adores Pasolini, distributes pamphlets, has access to someone else’s apartment and appears to be strong and mysterious.More ...
    Frank Witzel: Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969 © Matthes und Seitz Verlag Berlin, 2015

    Frank Witzel
    Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969

    There came a time when you no longer bought a single, but the whole LP…(…). While the transition from singles to LPs did not happen overnight, one thing is for sure - it has something to do with the second half of the sixties and with adolescence. This was the time when a whole generation of Germans became entirely engrossed in pop culture. (…) Frank Witzel programmatically sets his new novel in this forward-looking era when everything was changing utterly. His book (…) is the first literary text to create an extensive archive of this generation. (…)More ...
    Feridun Zaimoglu: Siebentürmeviertel © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag Cologne, 2015

    Feridun Zaimoglu

    Feridun Zaimoglu is a phenomenon. Not only because in all his novels he manages to strike an unbroken, intensive, glowing tone. In each of these books, he completely reinvents his language at the same time, virtually reinventing himself as well. The sentences in Zaimoglu’s last novel, Isabel, were paled down to a notation-like corset as emaciated, recalcitrant and withdrawn as the protagonist herself. In contrast, his latest novel, set in Istanbul’s Seven Towers district of the title during and immediately after World War II, appears to have greedily soaked up everything that was pared down elsewhere.More ...