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
Hagard

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
Arbeiterroman

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
Kraft

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
Zuckersand

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
Kirio

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 ...