NBG Choices

Fiction

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A Tangle of Magic Valija Zinck

Penelope lives with her mother – her father died years ago. She has always been different from other children: for example, her hair has been grey since she was born. But one day, Penelope wakes up with sparkling red hair and her mother confesses the truth: her father is not only still alive, he’s a wizard. Penelope has inherited his powers, and embarks on a journey to find him…

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All the Land Jo Lendle

A beautifully written, meticulously researched and gripping fictionalised account of the life of polar explorer, Alfred Wegener, who died on an expedition to Greenland in 1930 while attempting to prove that one can survive a winter in ‘the loneliest place on earth’. Now known for his pioneering work on continental drift, here we meet Wegener in all his ambiguity and scepticism. From the beginning of this poetic novel, Lendle slips into the boy Alfred’s mind and describes the world through his eyes, a world in which mundane things are fascinating, and in which one can lose oneself.

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The Tidings of the Trees Wolfgang Hilbig

Where once was a beautiful wood now stands a desolate field smothered in ash and garbage, and here a young man named Waller has terrifying encounters with grotesque figures named ‘garbagemen’. As Waller becomes fascinated with these desperate men who eke out a survival by rooting through their nation’s waste, he imagines they are also digging through its past as their government erases its history and walls itself off from the outside world. A powerful novel about the politics that rip us apart, the stories we tell for survival, and the absolute importance of words to nations and people.

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My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water Michelle Steinbeck

A child attacks Loribeth with an iron while she is sleeping. In retaliation Loribeth throws the iron onto the child from an upstairs window, packs the damaged body into a suitcase and sets off in search of her absent father. Thus starts Michelle Steinbeck’s startling poetic novella about a young woman’s transition from childhood to adulthood. Steinbeck subverts the conventions of the fairy tale to reflect the psychological state of a girl growing up with a troubled relationship to her family. A lyrical coming-of-age novella and a striking debut.

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Dreamers Volker Weidermann

At the end of the First World War, the journalist and theatre critic Kurt Eisner organised a revolution which overthrew the monarchy, and declared a Free State of Bavaria. In February 1919 he was assassinated, and the revolution failed. But while the dream lived, it was the writers, poets, playwrights and intellectuals who led the way. In his characteristically lucid, sharp prose, Volker Weidermann presents us with a slice of history and shows how a small group of people could have altered the course of the twentieth century.

Modern Classics

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The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht Bertolt Brecht
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The Unhappiness of Being a Single Man. Essential Stories Franz Kafka
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We Women Have No Fatherland Ilse Frapan

Non-fiction

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A German Officer in Occupied Paris: The War Journals, 1941-1945 Ernst Jünger
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The Mood of the World Heinz Bude
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A World on Edge Daniel Schönpflug

Crime Thriller

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A Summer of Murder Oliver Bottini
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Beton Rouge Simone Buchholz
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The Second Rider Alex Beer
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Homeland Walter Kempowski

It is 1988 and Jonathan Fabrizius, a journalist living in West Germany, travels to the contested lands of former East Prussia – where the Nazi legacy lives on in buildings and fortifications – to write about a car rally. It’s a plum job, but his interest is piqued by a personal connection. Here, among the refugees fleeing the advancing Russians in 1945, Jonathan was born. Homeland is a nuanced work from one of the great modern European storytellers, in which an everyday German comes face to face with his painful family history, and with ordinary Germans’ complicity.

Also Recommended

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The Sex of the Angels, the Saints in their Heaven Raoul Schrott
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Tales of Mr Keuner Bertolt Brecht
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Shit is Real Aisha Franz