Cherrypicker  Springtime Listening

Spring 2023 Audiobooks © Der Hörverlag, tacheles!, Der Audio Verlag, Argon / canva

When it’s beginning to look like spring, it’s time to get out of the house. That doesn’t mean you have to put down your books, though. Audiobooks are ideal for walks and outings, whether read by well-known authors or accomplished audiobook narrators, whether the subject matter is dark or light.

We don’t always have enough time or opportunity to attend a live reading in a literary house or bookshop. The next best thing to hearing how your favourite authors sound when they present their work in a reading is to listen to audiobooks. 

Read by the authors themselves

Hermann: Wir hätten uns alles gesagt © Der Hörverlag Judith Hermann, a renowned and multiple award-winning author since her debut Sommerhaus später (1998), has given her poetry lectures in Frankfurt am Main the melancholy-sounding title Wir hätten uns alles gesagt (We would have told each other everything). “I write along the lines of my own life, I don’t know any other way of writing,” Hermann is quoted as saying, and accordingly the lectures bring together reflections on a childhood in unconventional circumstances, on divided Berlin, familial ties and families of choice, on long, happy summers by the sea. Judith Hermann asks about the reliability of memories and reads “with a great deal of thoughtfulness and with a poetic mood: sensitive, questioning, suggestive, touching, sometimes also laconic,” notes WDR, finding many emotive adjectives for the more than four-hour listening experience.

Duve: Sisi © tacheles! Sisi, Sisi everywhere. She’s never really disappeared completely from historical and pop-cultural memory and the ever-revered Austrian empress is currently celebrating her comeback not just in TV series and films, but also in Karen Duve’s novel of the same name. Karen Duve successfully took on one idiosyncratic, multi-talented 19th-century woman in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (Fräulein Nettes kurzer Sommer, 2018). An avid equestrian herself, Duve writes of Sisi as a passionately talented and tempestuous horsewoman, an outwardly radiant regent who was driven by court protocol and tolerated no competition beside her, least of all her eighteen-year-old niece. In an ample 11 hours, the author reads a meticulously told story of seduction and betrayal.

Capus: Susanna © Der Hörverlag The third audiobook presented here also focuses on a woman – Susanna, a Swiss painter whose adventurous life story is read by the successful author Alex Capus himself. He draws on a true story (not for the first time) and offers his audience a literary version of how a Swiss girl named Susanna Carolina Faesch, born in Kleinbasel in 1844, grows up to become an artist in New York, sets off for the so-called Wild West and finally becomes the confidante of Sitting Bull, chief of the Lakota Sioux people. For BR, the story of emancipation based on reality was the audiobook of the week in August 2022, in part due to Alex Capus’s attested “wonderfully dry humour,” which came across very well in his reading.

Light and shadow

Sinan: Gleißendes Licht © Argon Marc Sinan is not only a writer, but also a composer. The latter he has in common with Kaan, the main character in Gleißendes Licht (Searing Light), Sinan’s novel and a musical project he conceived that was performed simultaneously in Jena, Buchenwald, Berlin and Tel Aviv in 2022. Now an audiobook is also dedicated to the forceful story of a Turkish-Armenian family’s trauma: Kaan travels from his hometown of Berlin to Istanbul, where he learns that his grandmother was orphaned by the Armenian genocide. He remembers how his mother tried to escape the patriarchal restrictions of Turkey by marrying a German, but also remembers his own happy holiday visits to his grandparents by the sea. Actor Tim Seyfi’s reading of the autobiographical story is “confident, cool, very understated. This really accentuates some of the monstrosities told about in the book,” says BR.

Hilmes: Schattenzeit © Der Audio Verlag Schattenzeit (Time of Shadows) by Oliver Hilmes takes the audiobook audience back to the year 1943 – a time full of horrors in the middle of the Second World War. Then 26 years old, the highly gifted pianist Karlrobert Kreiten is certain the war is long lost and Hitler is mentally ill. Word gets out of his prophetic statement and seals the musician’s fate: He is sentenced to death by the Nazi justice system and hanged in Plötzensee. Kreiten’s ordeal is the focus of the non-fiction audiobook, framed by numerous stories from the diaries of the Jewish literary scholar Viktor Klemperer, for example, and by soldiers’ letters written on the battlefield of Stalingrad. Statements by famous contemporary witnesses such as Sophie Scholl, Thomas Mann, and Erich Kästner can also be heard. “For almost seven hours, the listener is spellbound by the narrator Julian Mehme, who succeeds in finding the right balance between distance and closeness. An audiobook that resonates,” says the WDR.

Poznanski: Böses Licht © Argon Finally, bestselling author Ursula Posznanski has conjured up a thriller series with crime scenes in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Böses Licht (Evil Light), the second volume of the Mordgruppe series, takes place in an illustrious setting. Investigator Fina Plank is summoned to Vienna’s most sacred cultural temple: the Burgtheater. There, they’re quite accustomed to stage blood, but the person sitting pale and quite dead on the throne is not an actor, but the theatre dresser. How could this happen, given that this blameless man was so well-liked? The theatre and TV actress Julia Nachtmann reads the crime novel by the Viennese author in a captivating, fast-paced and highly exciting way. The 13-hour audiobook certainly feels like it goes by the blink of an eye.


Logo Rosinenpicker © Goethe-Institut / Illustration: Tobias Schrank Alex Capus: Susanna (Speaker: Alex Capus)
München: Der Hörverlag, 2022. 1 MP3-CD
ISBN: 978-3-8445-4738-2
You can find this title in our eLibrary Onleihe. 

Karen Duve: Sisi (Speaker: Karen Duve)
Bochum: tacheles!, 2022. 1 MP3-CD
ISBN: 978-3-86484-771-4

Judith Hermann: Wir hätten uns alles gesagt (Speaker: Judith Hermann)
München: Der Hörverlag, 2023. 4 CDs
ISBN 978-3-8445-4892-1

Oliver Hilmes: Schattenzeit. Deutschland 1943: Alltag und Abgründe (Speaker: Julian Mehne)
Berlin: Der Audio Verlag, 2023. 1 MP3-CD
ISBN 978-3-7424-2633-8

Ursula Poznanski: Böses Licht (Speaker: Julia Nachtmann)
Berlin: Argon, 2023. 1 MP3-CD
ISBN: 978-3-8398-2045-2

Marc Sinan: Gleißendes Licht (Speaker: Tim Seyfi)
Berlin: Argon, 2023. 1 MP3-CD
ISBN: 978-3-8398-2043-8