Fiction – Novels, Novellas, Short Stories

Ingeborg Bachmann: Male oscuro. Aufzeichnungen aus der Zeit der Krankheit © Verlage Suhrkamp und Piper, Berlin / Munich, 2017

Ingeborg Bachmann
Male oscuro. Aufzeichnungen aus der Zeit der Krankheit

The event of reediting or publishing for the first time the texts and letters of Ingeborg Bachmann, who died tragically in 1973, is surrounded by much talk of the scruples involved. And as if to pluck up the requisite courage, the editors, coordinated by Salzburg German scholar Hans Höller, have published private archive material from Bachmann’s worst years right at the beginning, material that has never been read before.More ...
Lukas Bärfuss: Hagard © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2017

Lukas Bärfuss

Bärfuss develops a story spanning nearly 180 pages set during a few days in March in a city “where indifference is the prevalent attitude”. Everything here - work, traffic, everyday life - is subordinate to productivity. And yet doubts creep into Hagard as to whether the infinite wealth and social carefreeness might soon be a thing of the past. (…)More ...
Zsuzsa Bánk: Schlafen werden wir später © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2017

Zsuzsa Bánk
Schlafen werden wir später

Two girls who have been close friends since childhood were the main characters in Zsuz­sa Bánk‘s successful novel Die hel­len Tage (The Bright Days), published in 2011. Már­ta and Jo­han­na, the heroines of her new book, have also been best friends since their childhood days. Meanwhile, however, they have grown up. Now in their mid­forties, they are painfully aware that half their life is gone.More ...
Olga Grjasnowa: Gott ist nicht schüchtern © Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Olga Grjasnowa
Gott ist nicht schüchtern

In her third novel, Gott ist nicht schüchtern (God is Not Shy), Olga Grjasnowa has created a particularly wide gap between her protagonists’ social and biographical starting positions and their later life stories. In the course of the years between 2011 and 2016, Hammoudi and Amal will lose everything that had previously defined their lives. (…)More ...
Gerhard Henschel: Arbeiterroman © Hoffmann & Campe Verlag, Hamburg, 2017

Gerhard Henschel

This novel, like the six previous volumes of Gerhard Henschel’s chronicle of post-war West German prosperity, is about the glue that holds together a typical middle-class family, his family… (…). Since his grandparents‘ generation, everyday life in Henschel’s family has been measured and banished, either in diaries about building projects and love affairs, photo albums or long letters.
From this material that Henschel has gathered and keeps tidily in his cellar, and intensive research in city libraries about products, political events and programmatic contemporary publications, he reconstructs his past at a pace of “one and a half pages a day“, aiming to present everything as it was, “as close to one to one as possible“.More ...
Juliana Kálnay: Eine kurze Chronik des allmählichen Verschwindens © Klaus Wagenbach Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Juliana Kálnay
Eine kurze Chronik des allmählichen Verschwindens

The world is upside down at house number 29, where a man slowly metamorphoses into a tree. Another man moves into a lift. A child disappears without trace, hiding in holes like a mole. A photographer in a basement flat lives with his family in complete darkness. And the twin brothers on the second storey on the right may be one and the same person. Juliana Kálnay‘s debut novel Eine kurze Chronik des allmählichen Verschwindens (A Short Chronicle of Disappearing Gradually) resembles a hidden- object picture of grotesque scenes and puzzling characters, connected only by the house in which they live. (…)More ...
Anna Kim: Die große Heimkehr © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Anna Kim
Die große Heimkehr

The meteoric rise of the expression “post-factual” might lead one to believe that there had never been a twentieth century. No wartime lies, re-education camps or propaganda ministries (…). Anna Kim‘s novel Die große Heimkehr (The Great Homecoming) teaches a double history lesson. Kim succeeds in telling a grippingly narrated and comprehensively presented introduction to Korea’s history, a subject of propaganda battles. The author, who was born in Korea in 1977, emigrated with her family in 1979, first to Germany and then to Austria. (…)More ...
Dirk Kurbjuweit: Die Freiheit der Emma Herwegh © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2017

Dirk Kurbjuweit
Die Freiheit der Emma Herwegh

This novel is about the vain battles and terrible love of the democratic-revolutionary poet Georg Herwegh and his wife Emma. Their shared story comprises a political farce and a private tragedy. It is about emancipation and new departures, but also about destructive passion - self-justification on his part and selflessness on hers. Kurbjuweit gave his novel the title Die Freiheit der Emma Herwegh (Emma Herwegh’s Freedom) although contemporaries accused this brave woman of making herself her husband’s slave. (…)More ...
Jonas Lüscher: Kraft © C. H. Beck Verlag, Munich, 2017

Jonas Lüscher

The man that is the subject of this novel knows what he wants, has ideas and the ability to assert himself – his energy lasts quite a while. But since establishing himself in his career, making his bourgeois dreams of having a family come true and losing them again, he has been rather dissatisfiedly marking time. His old friend from university, István, who lives in the USA, advises him to take up an enticing offer. A million dollars have been offered for a convincing answer to the question of why everything that exists is good but could still be improved. (…)More ...
Eva Menasse: Tiere für Fortgeschrittene © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2017

Eva Menasse
Tiere für Fortgeschrittene

Curse or blessing? “It’s been impossible to agree on anything lately,“ complains the hostess, as the old certainties in her circle of friends crumble. Should reports about crimes specify the perpetrators‘ nationality, or is that racist and based on prejudice, as one of them said? (…) Does this controversy indicate, as one guest said, that “we ourselves are moving further and further to the right”? Or can we be glad, like Nora, that conversations “have some substance for a change“? (…)More ...
Jochen Schmidt: Zuckersand © C. H. Beck Verlag, Munich, 2017

Jochen Schmidt

The father who pushes his son through the urban jungle in Jochen Schmidt’s novel Zuckersand (Sugarsand) - first in a pram, then on a big bobby car and a balance bike – this father is a sure-tongued joker, at least that is one side of him. But that is just his showy side. A creative Berliner, he also has a dreamily eccentric side. While his girlfriend Klara, the child’s mother, has a proper job at the monuments office, he takes on the task of minding their offspring, his head in the clouds.More ...
Martin Walser: Statt etwas oder Der letzte Rank © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2017

Martin Walser
Statt etwas oder Der letzte Rank

Unlike his antipode Günter Grass, who set himself up as being opposed to everything while always swimming along in the mainstream, Walser never landed on his feet, but got caught in traps, some of which were of his own making. It is hard to say how much of this was out of loyalty to principles and how much was tactical ineptitude. The painful reflexes to all these incidents twitch through the book directly below the skin of its asserted composure. And then, of course, there is the chapter on Walser and women. Here the reader is offered something resembling the recollection of specific experiences, albeit in an anonymous and anecdotal form.More ...
Anne Weber: Kirio © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2017

Anne Weber

A showpiece that skips along like this one, blending children’s fairy tale, picaresque novel, worldly-wise parable and hagiography, is something we have not encountered in the rather weighty literary novels of recent years. With her story of the life of a good-for-nothing, reflected in marvels, the author has created a small work of magic (…). Life plans, firm beliefs, assertiveness, goal orientation, goals of any kind are foreign to this being by the name of Kirio. He toddles through the world, likes walking on his hands, takes things as they come.More ...
Natascha Wodin: Sie kam aus Mariupol © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2017

Natascha Wodin
Sie kam aus Mariupol

Natascha Wodin is the daughter of a Ukrainian forced labourer, one of many millions of people who were deported to Germany by the Nazis. In bringing her mother out of anonymity, she highlights a fate that similarly affected many others and to which there are practically no literary testimonies (…). Wodin closes this literary gap. (…) For a long time, the author did not know that she was the child of forced labourers, but knew only “that I was part of a kind of human scrapheap, some old sweepings left over after the war“.More ...
Ulrike Edschmid: Ein Mann, der fällt © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Ulrike Edschmid
Ein Mann, der fällt

The man who falls in Ulrike Edschmid‘s novel is not given a name. He is kept at a third-person narrative distance throughout.
At the hospital, this “he” says he fell like the Falling Man in Beckmann’s painting, head first, arms outstretched. The doctors at the hospital have a name for the results of the fall: Contusio spinalis, spinal cord contusion. The uninjured nerve pathway is still a slight hope. But it is obvious that after this day, 27 July 1986, nothing can be the same as before.More ...
Theresia Enzensberger: Blaupause © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2017

Theresia Enzensberger

Luise Schilling, who comes from a good family in Berlin, arrives at the Bauhaus in Weimar as a student in 1921. As ambitious as she is naïve, the first-person narrator of Blaupause (Blueprint) throws herself into her architecture studies. She immerses herself in the esoteric group around Swiss painter and nature mystic Johannes Itten – who was one of the first to be appointed to the Bauhaus as a master architect – and soon comes to believe that she had found access to art and new friends through fasting rituals and a cult of the body. Among Itten’s disciples, she meets Jakob, a dandified student who has not only turned her head.More ...
Ulla Hahn: Wir werden erwartet © Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt Munich, 2017

Ulla Hahn
Wir werden erwartet

If writing an autobiography helps one to gain clarity about one’s own life – and that applies equally to the autobiographically inspired novel form that Ulla Hahn has chosen, then the five years she spent working for the Communist Party is the part of the author’s life that requires the most explanation. She is one of the most significant and most popular contemporary German poets. The explanation, which has grown to four volumes and 2,500 pages, is of great interest for her and for readers, psychologically, sociologically, historically and literarily. Wir werden erwartet (They Are Expecting Us) completes a story of education, emancipation and social advancement unparalleled in modern German literature.More ...
Christoph Hein: Trutz © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Christoph Hein

At an event of the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Eastern Germany, a man comes forward and criticises a number of mistakes in the speaker’s presentation. The curious narrator’s interest has been aroused. The man’s name is Maykl Trutz, and he is not the smart alec the piqued speaker takes him to be. Rather, Trutz has a remarkable education behind him, top-grade brain training. He received instruction in Moscow from Waldemar Gejm, a professor of mathematics and linguistics, in the art of mnemonics. The mnemonics technique is an ingenious memory training system. Once you have mastered it, you have a clear advantage in remembering things.More ...
Paulus Hochgatterer: Der Tag, an dem mein Großvater ein Held war © Deuticke Verlag, Vienna, 2017

Paulus Hochgatterer
Der Tag, an dem mein Großvater ein Held war

Much has been said and much has been written about the end, the collapse, the capitulation, the liberation, or whatever else you want to call it. (…) In an interview, Austrian Paulus Hochgatterer, who is not only a writer but also a child psychologist in Vienna, gave two good reasons to legitimate his new novella, a thin volume of just 110 pages. Firstly, Hochgatterer says, the generation of those who experienced World War II is gradually dying out. (…)More ...
Daniel Kehlmann: Tyll © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2017

Daniel Kehlmann

The title of the novel is “Tyll” and its cover is adorned by a jester’s mask, but Daniel Kehlmann did not write a novel about Till Eulenspiegel. Rather, he wrote a novel about the Thirty Years War in which, strangely, the medieval prankster Tyll Ulenspiegel appears. According to criteria of historical accuracy, he is out of place there, but according to criteria of poetical, perhaps even psychological accuracy, one could see that differently or even the other way around. (…)More ...
Michael Köhlmeier: Der Mann, der Verlorenes wiederfindet © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2017

Michael Köhlmeier
Der Mann, der Verlorenes wiederfindet

A man is lying on the monastery square of Arcella near Padua. He dies, with three thousand people looking on. Just a moment ago, he was preaching to them, then his energies sapped. It’s hot. The crowd keeps its distance. Someone has put a blanket behind his neck and has laid him out on a stretcher. No one helps him, no one comes to still his thirst or relieve his pain. The people want to see how God takes home a saint.
Michael Köhlmeier is an expert at artfully linking historical figures in fictional texts. (…)More ...
Mariana Leky: Was man von hier aus sehen kann © DuMont Verlag, Cologne, 2017

Mariana Leky
Was man von hier aus sehen kann

The title of Leky’s third novel Was man von hier aus sehen kann (What You Can See From Here) makes clear that it is impossible for everything to be visible and for its significance to be revealed from one’s own vantage point. It is always a surprise to see where the shots in life are fired. That is also true of the small village in the Westerwald region where the novel is set – quite apart from the fact that the narrator Luise’s father, who is always advising everyone “to let more world in”, soon goes off on a never-ending world trip. Her mother, a florist, is also absent for much of the time, occupied with the separation from her husband and with her lover, so that Granny Selma becomes the most important person in Luise’s life.More ...
Robert Menasse: Die Hauptstadt © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Robert Menasse
Die Hauptstadt

At the beginning of Die Hauptstadt (The Capital), a pig runs through Brussels. A funny, highly symbolic and thus also political scene, for it says a great deal about the place that has become a negative projection surface throughout the whole of Europe - the EU capital, home of European bureaucracy, which has the arrogance to determine life in so many countries. (…) But these are primarily resentful stereotypes, as Menasse shows right at the beginning of the text. For him, pigs are not only dirty, but also always a symbol of good luck, and thus, this domesticated animal that lives out its wildness in the streets of the capital is a symbol, not only of the subject of the novel.More ...
Marion Poschmann: Die Kieferninseln © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Marion Poschmann
Die Kieferninseln

More than anything else, Die Kieferninseln (Pine Islands) is an immensely funny book. Yet one can hardly imagine a sadder starting situation. A man, a German lecturer by the name of Gilbert Silvester (current special area of study, but also academic crisis area: beard fashion research, (…) has just done a runner because he suspects his wife is cheating on him. There is no evidence for this except a dream, but this man, who has already suffered many failures in his life, tries to get as far away as he can possibly go, taking the next flight to Japan (“all in all, beard­less people”). In Tokyo in the late summer, he meets by chance the student Yosa Tamagotchi, who is just about to commit suicide because of exam phobia.More ...
Sasha Marianna Salzmann: Außer sich © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Sasha Marianna Salzmann
Außer sich

The author was born in Volgograd in 1985 and grew up in Moscow. After moving to Germany, she initially emerged as a dramatist. In this novel, she brilliantly realises the title’s promise. Außer sich (Beside Herself) tells the story of the dissolution of boundaries. (…) The novel covers a whole century and tells the story of four gene­rations of a family, alternating between the Soviet Union and Germany after the transformation of 1989 and contemporary Turkey. Yet it does not tell their story as a broad panorama or battle painting.More ...
Ingo Schulze: Peter Holtz. Sein glückliches Leben erzählt von ihm selbst © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2017

Ingo Schulze
Peter Holtz. Sein glückliches Leben erzählt von ihm selbst

It is one of the great mysteries of the GDR that it actually did create a new human being who survived even the collapse of the Eastern bloc quite well - the citizen of critical socialism. (…)
The author Ingo Schulze has now put up a monument to this critical citizen of the GDR, this proverbial plain, honest German Michel of true so­cia­lism, and more widespread there than in any other country in Eastern Europe, in his character Peter Holtz. Holtz, an orphan from the GDR, takes socialism more se­ri­ous­ly than anyone around him, even more se­riously than the party and the Stasi allow. He is not even suitable to be a police informer because he is too naive.More ...
Uwe Timm: Ikarien © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2017

Uwe Timm

In spring 1945, Munich lies in ruins. There are large holes in the roof of the Pinakothek, the university and many other buildings, torn by aerial bombs in the last days of the war. (…)
The end of the war is a time to which Timm, who experienced it as a five-year-old boy, keeps returning. In his most successful book, Am Beispiel meines Bruders (In My Brother’s Shadow), he has already sought what it was that led his older brother to go to war in Russia at that time. Ikarien (Icaria) begins with a return. Young Michael Hansen returns to Germany from the USA, where his family had emigrated many years before the war.More ...
Barbara Zoeke: Die Stunde der Spezialisten © Die Andere Bibliothek, Berlin, 2017

Barbara Zoeke
Die Stunde der Spezialisten

The critical reappraisal of the Nazis’ crimes has unremittingly brought facts to light at which the imagination baulks. One of the most disgusting acts was the syste­matic murder by doctors of more than 200,000 sick people as “worthless life”, which was justified by the ideology of purifying German genetic material. It is incredible that medical doctors, whose ethos includes the principle of doing no harm, became per­sonally involved in the murder machinery. And yet it has to be understood that a common social understanding of medical ethics cannot exist in Germany without a knowledge of the crimes of physicians during the Nazi period. Unfortunately, how­ever, historical research, with its distancing descriptions and statistics, does not reach most people. (…)More ...
Simone Buchholz: Beton Rouge © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2017

Simone Buchholz
Beton Rouge
Crime Thriller

The people at the top are greedy, incompetent and corrupt. Once you have realised that, for example from reading crime fiction by Simone Buchholz, you will hardly be surprised to learn that they are also sadistically inclined and run down young girls on their bikes in their free time.
Hello Hamburg! Chastity Riley is on her way again, the public prosecutor in Simone Buchholz’s crime thrillers. (…)
Chastity Riley personifies world-weariness. In essence, her character can be described by reference to her accessories - alcohol, coffee, leather jacket, old music (…)More ...
Monika Geier: Alles so hell da vorn © Ariadne im Argumentverlag, Hamburg, 2017

Monika Geier
Alles so hell da vorn
Crime Thriller

Monika Geier’s heroine in a series of seven crime thrillers so far is Bettina Boll. (…) Her latest investigations are chaotic. A police officer shot in a brothel was a close colleague, which is why she has now been sent to the special commission investi­gating the young prostitute’s killing spree. Boll, despite being torn between her official duties and her instinct, and despite being disorganised, is still in the midst of everything, finds the right witnesses, asks the right questions and even shoots a life-saving shot. You simply have to love this woman because she keeps juggling all the balls simultaneously, despite her constant state of exhaustion and chaos.More ...