A selection of new books in English translation, recommended for reviewers, booksellers, literary festivals and readers. Click here for the brand new selection of NBG Choices - Spring 2018.
The career of hard-bitten Hamburg state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose- dive: she has been transferred to witness protection to prevent her making trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of a hospitalised anonymous man, Chastity’s instinct for the big case kicks in. Gaining her charge’s confidence, she soon finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs.
In River, a woman moves to a London suburb and begins to take long, solitary walks by the River Lea, amassing a collection of found objects and photographs. She is drawn into reminiscences of the different rivers which haunted the various stages of her life, from the Rhine to the Saint Lawrence, the Hooghly, the banks of the Oder. Written in language that is as precise as it is limpid, River is full of poignant images and poetic observations, an ode to nature, edgelands, and the transience of all things human.
When Liz, Marty and Jules’ parents are killed in a car crash, they’re sent to a state-funded boarding school, a far cry from their loving family home in Munich. There Jules turns from a vivacious child into a shy young man, but it’s at this school that he meets the mysterious Alva – beautiful, intelligent and damaged. As the siblings age, their lives diverge further from the course originally set out for them. Following them episodically, The End of Loneliness asks whether you can rise above a stroke of fate, and how something lost in life can later be rediscovered.
Philipp Winkler’s prize-winning debut tells the story of Heiko Kolbe, a young soccer hooligan whose violent brawling betrays a yearning for brotherhood and a desperate need to find his place in the world. Hooligan offers a devastating portrait of working- class, post-industrial urban life on the fringes and a universal story about masculinity in the twenty- first century. Hooligan won the Aspekte Prize for Best First Novel and was shortlisted for the German Book Prize.
Katja Petrowskaja’s family story is impossible to untangle from the history of twentieth- century Europe: from her great-uncle, who shot a German diplomat in 1932 and was sentenced to death, to her great-grandmother, who was too old and frail to leave Kiev when the Jews there were rounded up, and was brutally killed by the Nazis on the street. Taking the reader from Moscow to Kiev, Warsaw to Berlin, and deep into archives and pieced-together conversations, photos and memories, Maybe Esther is a journey into language, memory, philosophy, history and trauma, and a singular, beautiful, unforgettable work of literature.
Leila is the new girl in Max’s class, and they soon become close friends. She has ed Syria with her family, having left her beloved grandmother and father behind. Her most cherished object is a walnut from her grandmother’s garden. Max is close to his own grandmother, who is very understanding of Leila’s situation, having fled her home in Pommern as a little girl. Leila is desperately sad when she loses her beloved walnut, and sets out to return to Syria. Apple Cake and Baklava is a moving story about otherness, openness and the willingness to come to know one another.
Part dark fairy tale, part mystery, Yiza is the story of three street children on the run in Germany. Trekking through snowy forests and housing settlements, Yiza, Schamhan and Arian evade police custody, subsisting on the margins of society and doing whatever it takes to survive. Narrated in simple language and with an innocent charm that belies its social reality, Yiza is a pertinent and timely tale of displacement and suffering.
One night, German philosopher Hans Blumenberg returns to his study to find a lion lying on the floor as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. The philosopher with some effort retains his composure, even when the next day during his lecture the lion reappears, ambling slowly down the centre aisle. Blumenberg glances around; the seats are full, but none of his students seem to see the lion. What is going on here?
Long after Eichmann’s death, his executioner is still haunted by his memories. He remembers watching Eichmann day and night, the way he eats, the way he lies in bed, the sound of the cord tensing around his neck. But as he tells and re-tells his story, he begins to doubt himself. And when one of his friends reveals his own link to Eichmann, Nagar is forced to reconsider everything he has ever believed about his past.
'In the last days of the Second World War two young farm workers – one of them the narrator’s father – are drafted into the SS to fight on the Eastern front in Hungary. The horrors they witness will reverberate into the present. Pin-sharp poetic imagery illuminates a re-imagined memory, and brings to life the experience of a forgotten generation.’ – Shaun Whiteside, translator
Retired classics professor Richard is wrenched out of his routine existence when he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Curiosity turns into compassion and an inner transformation as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening.
Gabriela grows up in the East German town of Leibnitz, raised by successful parents whom she constantly disappoints. She shows no talent as a violinist and, worse, she fails to choose the right friends at school. When her father falls out of favour with the communists, Gabriela drops out of school, and eventually ends up living beneath a canal bridge. Then the Wall comes down. Can Gabriela seize a second chance in the new, united Germany?
‘A compelling, heart-breaking coming-of-age story, from the bestselling author of A Whole Life. Seventeen-year-old Franz arrives in Vienna from the countryside, on the eve of the Second World War. Apprenticed to an elderly tobacconist, Franz does his best to learn all he can about the ways of the world – including receiving romantic advice from a Professor Freud. Soon, however, Germany will annex Austria and the lives of our characters will be entirely changed’.
Ravi Mirchandani, publisher, Picador