With the Brexit debate raging on in the UK, we could not miss the opportunity to address the theme of European identity in our autumn issue, and with our EU-blue cover we have literally nailed our colours to the mast! Our belief in a shared European identity has, of course, always shaped what we do here at New Books in German. Our whole project is founded upon a passionate commitment to bringing German-language literature to a wider audience, and forty-six issues later we are still doing just that.
In our opening piece, Jamie Bulloch, translator of Robert Menasse’s The Capital, reflects on what the novel has to say about the European project, as well as on the history of Austrian engagement with European identity throughout the twentieth century. Later on, historian and writer Simon Strauß considers the fundamental importance of European culture to the very concept of Europe and thus to the possibility of a European identity.
No wonder, then, that the titles reviewed in these pages embody a satisfyingly diverse range of ways of conceptualising European identity. The three titles longlisted for the 2019 German Book Prize are no exception: Raphaela Edelbauer’s and Karen Köhler’s superb novelistic debuts both offer dystopian perspectives on the ever-pressing question of where and to whom we belong, while Norbert Scheuer’s assured historical novel offers a window onto the Second World War – the crucible from which modern Europe continues to emerge. Readers can also discover Eugen Ruge’s take on 1930s Moscow, Lukas Hartmann’s insight into wartime Switzerland, Susanne Gregor’s portrayal of life in Slovakia in 1989, and two different portraits of 1990s Berlin from Christiane Neudecker and Isabel Fargo Cole.
It is a great pleasure to showcase the wealth of contemporary German-language literary talent in this issue, particularly at this tumultuous time for UK–European relations. As we welcome Sarah Harrington Hemens to lead the New Books in German project from here on, we look forward to continuing to celebrate European identity and culture for many years to come.
Alyson Coombes & Sheridan Marshall