Fiction – Novels

Shida Bazyar: Nachts ist es leise in Teheran © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Shida Bazyar
Nachts ist es leise in Teheran

The novel’s title and the author’s name indicate that Shida Bazyar, who was born in Hermeskeil in Rhineland-Palatinate in 1988, has family roots in Iran. Her curiosity about the subject of flight is thus due to her biography, as is the case with Fatah, who was also born in Germany. Bazyar’s parents, easily recognisable as characters in her novel, emigrated in the eighties, though as left-wing students they had welcomed the fall of the Shah in 1979. (...)More ...
Maxim Biller: Biografie © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Maxim Biller
Biografie

For decades, he has been the agent provocateur, sometimes also the pacemaker of the German literary scene, demanding more courage, more relevance and an end of “wimpy literature”. He takes a cool look at the German literary scene and discovers merely boring middle-class people or shy craftsmen. And then he calls them that, even if everyone else’s judgement is completely different. For him, there is no such thing as a cosy review. (...) Now he has presented his great novel. He calls the book a memoir. Its title is Biografie (Biography). errorism, sexuality, the Holocaust, love and the family, Germany and Israel, Prague and Moscow are to be found on nearly every page.More ...
Matthias Brandt: Raumpatrouille. Geschichten © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Matthias Brandt
Raumpatrouille. Geschichten

Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol) is neither a literary attempt to come to terms with a dominant father, nor a late attempt at rapprochement like Andenken (Remembrance), the narrative essay of 2006 by the author’s older brother Lars Brandt. What is to be learned en passant about Willy Brandt, that he was reserved, emotionally awkward but a reliable father in his way, does not go one iota beyond what is already known.More ...
Gerhard Falkner: Apollokalypse © Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Gerhard Falkner
Apollokalypse

Apollokalypse is told by Georg Autenrieth himself, a person who remains elusive even when he is talking, making love, drinking. Who is actually speaking and how many people are enclosed within this Autenrieth remains the mystery that lends suspense to this novel. The narrator, whom one can neither believe nor disbelieve, leads us through Berlin between 1985 and 1995, not chronologically, but discontinuously. The fall of the Berlin Wall took place during this time, but little ado is made of it. The story takes place in all parts of the city, West and East, with and without the Wall, and the caesuras are set by women. Isabel, the art student, and Bilijana the Bulgarian, otherwise known as Billy.More ...
Catalin Dorian Florescu: Der Mann, der das Glück bringt © C. H. Beck Verlag, Munich, 2016

Catalin Dorian Florescu
Der Mann, der das Glück bringt

Once again Florescu tells a story set between Eastern Europe and North America, as he did in Zaira. But this time, two narrative strands are woven together ever more closely and ever more thrillingly as the story goes on. The first strand begins with a bitterly poor newspaper boy, an immigrant, who later becomes the grandfather of Ray, the narrator. The paper boy observes the regular transport of children’s coffins by ship on the East River in New York in 1899. He does not want to end up there. But I am getting ahead of myself. Apparently unperturbed, the boy with the many names and the beautiful voice ekes out a living in the metropolitan jungle and gazes into murderous chasms.More ...
Durs Grünbein: Die Jahre im Zoo © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2015

Durs Grünbein
Die Jahre im Zoo

The “memory tin”, writes Durs Grünbein in one of the lyrical intervals of his memoir Die Jahre im Zoo (The Years in the Zoo) is “an old tin full of rainworms:/You open them and childhood, the wretchedness, wafts out”. That wretchedness is not the main characteristic of Grünbein’s description of childhood and youth, however. On the contrary. In spite of all his precision in describing unpleasant incidents, such as the (only) beating he received from his mother or the death of a comrade, this award-winning poet certainly entertains nostalgic, though never idealising memories. They begin with the walks, the “inspections” with his grandfather by the Elbe... (...)More ...
Anna-Katharina Hahn: Das Kleid meiner Mutter © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Anna Katharina Hahn
Das Kleid meiner Mutter

The real main character and first-person narrator is (…) the Spaniard Ana María. She belongs to the disillusioned young generation of southern Europeans - well educated, but with no chance of finding appropriate employment. The people in her clique take atrocious temporary work once in a while, but are forced to go back to their children’s rooms at their parents’ homes and are dependent on them. This is a close-up portrait of contemporary Spain and of the European plight, the portrait of a lost generation. Ana’s clique calls itself “La Plaga”, and the way in which they try to while away their evenings makes implicit reference to the novel’s compositional principal.More ...
Christoph Hein: Glückskind mit Vater © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Christoph Hein
Glückskind mit Vater

Christoph Hein’s novel, based on a real background, is a German case study. A calculated blend of truth and construction, unwavering and magnificent. Konstantin Boggosch never met his father, but his father has left his mark on his life. What is worse, he has also left his mark in Boggosch’s file with the East German authorities. Whatever the son intends to do, his father’s shadow is faster. In spite of being ideally qualified, he is not allowed to become a state-sponsored East German gymnast because his file contains the things it contains about the war criminal. (…)More ...
Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker: Fremde Seele, dunkler Wald © S.  Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2016

Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker
Fremde Seele, dunkler Wald

There is something remarkable about the writer Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker. When his first book was published a few years ago, it seemed as if it had fallen out of a different age. And its successors continue in that vein, with titles like Magdalenaberg (Magdalene Hill), Roter Flieder (Red Lilac) and Schwarzer Flieder (Black Lilac). Most of the settings are in rural Upper Austria, on farms that seemed to have survived from outlines by Adelbert Stifter and sometimes Peter Rosegger. And even the language of this writer, who was born in 1982, link up with those traditions: realistic, rural, with long phrase cycles suggestively evoking the characters’ emotional lives.More ...
Dmitrij Kapitelman: Das Lächeln meines unsichtbaren Vaters © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2016

Dmitrij Kapitelman
Das Lächeln meines unsichtbaren Vaters

So this is the setting: young writer travels with his father to Israel. Sounds potentially most embarrassing. Autobiographical soul-searching, German self-discovery prose, gently seasoned with Jewish humour. (…) What Dmitrij Kapitelman makes of it, in any case, is masterful. This book narrates the biography of an immigrant family. In 1994, fate – together with the German quota refugee system - brought Dmitrij Kapitelman and his parents from Kiev to Leipzig. “My father got his existential bargain and the FRG got a discount on its past.” They only ended up in Germany because they were “welcome restitution Jews”.More ...
Abbas Khider: Ohrfeige © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2016

Abbas Khider
Ohrfeige

To publish a novel about the life of asylum-seekers in Germany in early 2016 sounds like a smart move. But for Khider, the subject is an old one, not only because he dealt with flight, resistance and exile in his previous three works before Ohrfeige (Box on the Ear). The author, who was born in Baghdad in 1973, had to leave his native country in 1996. Following a number of detours, he arrived in the Bavarian town of Ansbach in 2000. (...) Khider, who meanwhile lives in Berlin, began to write Ohrfeige three years ago. So it is rather by coincidence that the book has been published at a time when all the media are dealing with the subject of migration. (...)More ...
Bodo Kirchhoff: Widerfahrnis © Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt, Frankfurt am Main, 2016

Bodo Kirchhoff
Widerfahrnis

A fairy-tale encounter. A woman rings the doorbell of a man’s apartment. Both the woman and the man have experienced great suffering and they are both a little world-weary. Both are intimately linked with their past more than with the present. They recognise one another in their forlornness and in spite of only just having met, decide to go on a car journey together. (…)
Reither and Leonie Palm (…) are both burdened by their past. Memories are whispers “that drive you crazy or fill you with pain or both” we read.More ...
Radek Knapp: Der Gipfeldieb © Piper Verlag, Munich, 2015

Radek Knapp
Der Gipfeldieb

He is just a young, ordinary gas meter reader, who suddenly gets the urge to pause for a moment and take stock of his life. And yet after reading just two or three pages of his monologue, one finds oneself in the midst a Vienna full of weird characters and absurd situations (…). While Ludwik Wiewurka (…) has not had any spectacular successes, he has an extremely bizarre life story to tell. At the age of twelve, his own mother took him away from the protected environment of a Warsaw suburb and the security of his grandparents’ house and abducted him to Vienna.More ...
Michael Köhlmeier: Das Mädchen mit dem Fingerhut © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2016

Michael Köhlmeier
Das Mädchen mit dem Fingerhut

Michael Köhlmeier is a quiet man. And this is a quiet book. His novel Das Mädchen mit dem Fingerhut (The Girl with the Thimble) describes a large, silent room and a child that moves through this room and survives. At the moment, many people will read this book in a very specific way and will assume that Michael Köhlmeier imagined a six-year-old refugee who is left behind in a rich country where she does not speak the language. Who starves and falls dangerously ill, finds and loses friends, is picked up by the police and taken to a home, runs away and roams until an evil old woman locks her up in her gingerbread house.More ...
Christian Kracht: Die Toten © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Christian Kracht
Die Toten

Superficially, Die Toten (The Dead) tells a simple story. In the early thirties, the director Emil Nägeli, who, like Kracht, is Swiss, is commissioned to travel to Japan. There, culture officer Masahiko Amakasu is carrying out a plan to “counter American cultural imperialism, which appears omnipotent,” by means of a “celluloid axis” planned between Tokyo and Berlin. Amakasu’s associate in the German capital is Alfred Hugenberg, the Weimar Republic’s reactionary media magnate who was briefly Minister of Economics in Adolf Hitler’s first cabinet in 1933. According to Kracht, Hugenberg sees feature films as “gunpowder for the eyes”.More ...
Brigitte Kronauer: Der Scheik von Aachen © Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 2016

Brigitte Kronauer
Der Scheik von Aachen

Even as a child, she was terribly keen on swinging “as high as possible, and as low as possible,” says main character Anita Jannemann on one occasion, as if in passing. The comment is made in the middle of a story that circles around her enthusiasm for the world of the mountains and her lover Mario, an amateur climber, who exudes “the smell of mountain air” and is so heartily masculine that it makes the floorboards creak.
Initially, 42-year-old Anita gives the overall impression of being rather naïve, if not to say quirky. She left Switzerland to return to her home city of Aachen for Mario, her “great love”,More ...
André Kubiczek: Skizze eines Sommers © Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2016

André Kubiczek
Skizze eines Sommers

It wasn’t all bad, was it? Of course not, it was wonderful! At least if you are just turning 16, like René, have a double-decker cassette recorder from the Intershop and have the use of an apartment in Potsdam’s prefabricated high-rise district to do whatever you want for the whole of the summer holidays of 1985. René’s father, an academic loyal to the regime, travels to Switzerland for a seven-week peace conference, leaving his adolescent son a thousand marks for necessities and 200 extra for his birthday. Under the sink there are seven bottles of Napoleon brandy. (…)More ...
Michael Kumpfmüller: Die Erziehung des Mannes © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Michael Kumpfmüller
Die Erziehung des Mannes

(…) The story of composer Georg may well claim to provide an explanation of the confused state of the male gender in Germany here and now. But Kumpfmüller has plucked a more intimate form of narrative expression from a digression into the emotional world of a couple from literary history. He also travels with lighter luggage. Without the substantial load of the traditional Zeitroman (novel representing a contemporary time period) but with the manageable equipment of an Entwicklungsroman (novel showing the development of a character). The title refers to this concept, alluding to Gustave Flaubert’s L’Éducation sentimentale, or Sentimental Education.More ...
Katja Lange-Müller: Drehtür © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Katja Lange-Müller
Drehtür

Asta is standing near the car rentals at Munich airport next to a revolving door that is rarely used, desperately smoking duty-free fag ends. She not only seems lost, she is lost, just like her luggage that quite literally got lost in transit, somewhere between Nicaragua and Germany. The main character in Katja Lange-Müller’s new novel has spent the last 22 years of her life in Managua and other remote places, Djerba and Ulan Bator, working for aid organisations. In the end, her scattiness probably just got on her aid work colleagues’ nerves and, with gentle pressure, she was punctually returned to her home country upon reaching retirement age.More ...
Siegfried Lenz: Der Überläufer © Hoffmann & Campe Verlag, Hamburg, 2016

Siegfried Lenz
Der Überläufer

A treasure has been discovered in the literary estate of Siegfried Lenz, who died in 2014. Der Überläufer (The Turncoat) is a magnificent book and a testimony to how young German veterans felt after World War II. The book, Siegfried Lenz’ second novel, was rejected by the publisher in 1951 on extremely dubious grounds ...(...) The 26-year-old writer accepted the affront, laid the manuscript aside and forgot about it. Walter Proska is this turncoat, a young soldier on a Silesian battlefield in 1944. He is with his small unit in a bog in the middle of nowhere during a hot summer. His enemies are vicious flies and partisans.More ...
Thomas Melle: Die Welt im Rücken © Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Thomas Melle
Die Welt im Rücken

In his recently-published book, Thomas Melle gives an autobiographical account of his manic-depressive illness. The story of his bipolar disorder, a euphemistic and, he says, much too harmless term for the disaster this illness causes, is ruthlessly honest and shockingly brutal. At the same time, it is “madly” funny. “Existential slapstick”, Melle calls it in an interview. And since his manic episodes drive him through Berlin’s clubs, pubs, parties and concert halls, Melle also succeeds as if incidentally in painting a picture of the mood of Berlin’s overheated pop culture scene.More ...
Joachim Meyerhoff: Ach, diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2015

Joachim Meyerhoff
Ach, diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke

The novel (and that is what the work is labelled) begins in 1989. Joachim, the first-person narrator comes to Munich from northern Germany to start his community service but, to his complete surprise, is accepted at the Otto Falckenberg School of Drama. Due to his lack of finances, his grandparents’ darling takes up lodgings in the spare room of their classy villa, located in the immediate vicinity of Nymphenburg Palace. He is to stay there for three and a half years, the period covered by the narrative.
Ach, diese Lücke... (This Void, This Unspeakable Void) is two things. For one thing, it is the description of how an awkward young man becomes an artist.More ...
Terézia Mora: Die Liebe unter Aliens © Luchterhand Literaturverlag, Munich, 2016

Terézia Mora
Die Liebe unter Aliens

Terézia Mora has always been interested in eccentrics and oddballs. 17 years ago, this Hungarian-born writer published her first book entitled Seltsame Materie (Strange Material) … (…)
Her idiosyncratic love of language and her sideways look at society were striking. Since then, she has won prizes and scholarships, has written three major novels and her style has become more confident. The frequent switching between authorial and personal perspectives, between the external and internal view, gives her texts a mercurial quality. Her latest publication is another book of short stories entitled Die Liebe unter Aliens (Love Among Aliens).More ...
Martin Mosebach: Mogador © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2016

Martin Mosebach
Mogador

Mogador is the former Portuguese name of a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. (…) Mosebach’s Mogador is not just the story of the wheeling and dealing of economic criminals, but also a book of fairy tales where one marvel sprouts out of another like the flowers of a firework, where humanity and brutality, the innocent and the corrupt, live side by side. (…)
The hero of the story is a young man called Patrick who married the striking Pilar at a very early age. “She was a Puritan of the fresh appetising kind”. Pilar comes from a wealthy family, while he comes from a modest background.More ...
Kathrin Schmidt: Kapoks Schwestern © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016

Kathrin Schmidt
Kapoks Schwestern

Since her debut novel Die Gunnar-Lennefsen-Expedition (The Gunnar Lennefsen Expedition) of 1998, Kathrin Schmidt, who was born in Gotha in 1958 and holds a diploma in psychology, has made her name as an eloquent and creative poet and epic writer. In her family sagas, she always reaches down into the deeper layers of the German past. She is particularly interested in tragic cases of the betrayal of love by Stasi agents. Werner Kapok, the son of Henny and Kurt, is guilty of this. He grew up alongside the Schaechter sisters, but, unlike them, remains a colourless character. Now, all three have returned to Treptow’s garden settlement –More ...
Peter Stamm: Weit über das Land © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2016

Peter Stamm
Weit über das Land

Thomas is an employee in the world of prevailing routine. He has two children, a wife and a house in a small Swiss town. It is a life that could not be more average. But one day, for inexplicable reasons, the family man does not return from work. At first, his wife Astrid thinks there must be some mistake. She calms down the children, gives herself answers, and juggles with flimsy explanations. But then it is becomes clear that Thomas has run away.More ...
Saša Stanišić: Fallensteller © Luchterhand Literaturverlag, Munich, 2016

Saša Stanišić
Fallensteller

In 2014, Saša Stanišić published his shimmering, wonderful and rightly accoladed novel Vor dem Fest (Before the Festival). It is set in the fictitious village of Fürstenfelde, composed from a number of real villages.
The title story of his new book of short stories, Fallensteller (Trappers), is just under 100 pages in length, making it by far the longest in the book. It has returned to Fürstenfelde and also to the choral narrative style. The writer has gone. But now, one day, the trapper appears on the scene, “ponytail at the back, bald at the front, black coat with a high collar like from a century when men wore breeches.”More ...
Heinz Strunk: Der goldene Handschuh © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2015

Heinz Strunk
Der goldene Handschuh

This is not a contemporary social novel. Heinz Strunk tells a story set in the seventies of the Hamburg ripper Fritz Honka and in the process finds illuminating language for this person, who lives close to speechlessness. As if incidentally, however, Heinz Strunk also paints a picture of a society that has little to do with the bright self-portrayals of the old Federal Republic of Germany. There is something deeply unsettling, but also very enlightening to read in this novel about all the things that are part of this period’s legacy.More ...
Guntram Vesper: Frohburg © Schöffling und Co. Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2016

Guntram Vesper
Frohburg

Having previously gained a reputation primarily as a poet and audio play writer, Vesper spent years “going through, searching through, combing through memories”. He now places his childhood and adolescence in Frohburg – he fled to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957 – against the background of the sinister, ideologically connotated history of the 19th and 20th centuries (…).More ...
Anna Weidenholzer: Weshalb die Herren Seesterne tragen © Matthes & Seitz Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Anna Weidenholzer
Weshalb die Herren Seesterne tragen

The key question is why? Why does Karl Hellmann carry out research? And what is he hoping to discover through this research? That is what the man who sells roast chicken in front of the supermarket wants to know. Karl and the man silently watch the chickens turning on the spit. We would like to explore the following question, he begins and thinks: I don’t know anymore either. We would like to find out how satisfied … To put it briefly, we would like to establish what life here is like. That could be a scene straight out of Loriot. Just as Karl Hellmann could be a character who could have come straight out of a slightly offbeat melancholy film.More ...
Benedict Wells: Vom Ende der Einsamkeit © Diogenes Verlag, Zürich, 2016

Benedict Wells
Vom Ende der Einsamkeit

The Munich writer Benedict Wells, who was born in 1984, is a literary wunderkind. In his mid-twenties, he had already written a bestseller, Becks letzter Sommer (Beck’s Last Summer), which was filmed with Christian Ulmen. (...) Vom Ende der Einsamkeit (On the End of Loneliness), Wells´ latest novel, is his most ambitious work to date – the chronicle of a family, traced over more than three decades. The first-person narrator, a man in his early forties called Jules, takes a melancholy look back on his life and the life of his family. (...) His parents were killed in a car accident when he was eleven. (...)More ...
Philipp Winkler: Hool © Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 2016

Philipp Winkler
Hool

Hool is the portrait of a young man called Heiko Kolbe, narrated in the first person throughout. Since he was young, he has been a member of Hanover’s hooligan scene. He slid into it through his own father and an uncle and backed by a group of friends from the neighbourhood with whom Heiko proves himself in his first organised fights against fanatical supporters of other football clubs. The willingness to use violence that is needed for this requires a sense of community, trust, perfection. The young bodies become fighting machines and the group becomes a phalanx in which everyone has a fixed role. (…)More ...