This regular page brings you a selection of German-language titles that have just been, or are soon to be, published in English. We cover fiction, crime, nonfiction, children’s and YA and poetry.
Last House Before the Mountain – Monika Helfer
Translated by Gillian Davidson
Bloomsbury, February 2023
Based on the internationally bestselling and award-winning Austrian novelist Monika Helfer’s own family history, Last House Before the Mountain is a propulsive, haunting, multi-layered saga about love, family, and the hidden wages of war.
The whole, biographically inspired family drama tells of the greatest feelings we have: Love, anger, envy and griefMeike Schnitzler, Brigitte
On The Marble Cliffs – Ernst Jünger
Translated by Tess Lewis
NYRB Classics, January 23
The February 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.
Set in a world of its own, Ernst Jünger’s On the Marble Cliffs is both a mesmerizing work of fantasy and an allegory of the advent of fascism. Tess Lewis’s new translation of Jünger’s sinister fable of 1939 brings out all of this legendary book’s dark luster.
The classical beauty of the writing, in Tess Lewis’s exquisite translation, gives a sense of the author’s sympathies. . . . [H]is short, prismatic book is beautiful.Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
The Questionable Ones – Judith Keller
Translated by Tess Lewis
Seagull, February 23
A brilliant collection of microfiction, reflecting our fragmented times.
With quirky humour and wry insight, Swiss author Judith Keller’s micro-fictions unravel the fabric of daily life. She delves into the aporia of language by taking idiomatic expressions literally, unpacking the multiple meanings of words, and confounding expectations. Seven Zurich tram stops provide the framework for these familiar yet absurd portraits of passers-by, fellow passengers on the tram, the unemployed and the overemployed, the innocent and the suspicious, young mothers and confused elderly.
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
MacLehose Press, June 2023
How can two lovers find a way back to each other, when the pain of the past stands between them?
With plans adrift after a fire burns down their rented holiday cabin, Rahel and Peter find themselves unexpectedly on an isolated farm where Rahel spent many a happy childhood summer. Suddenly, after years of navigating careers, demanding children and the monotony of the daily routine, they find themselves unable to escape each other’s company. With three weeks stretching ahead, they must come to an understanding on whether they have a future together.
What happens when love grows older and passion has faded? When what divides us is greater than what brought us together? And how easy is it to ask the fundamental questions about our relationships?
While We Were Dreaming – Clemens Meyer
Translated by Katy Derbyshire
Fitzcarraldo Editions, March 2023
Rico, Mark, Paul and Daniel were 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in autumn 1989. Growing up in Leipzig at the time of reunification, they dream of a better life somewhere beyond the brewery quarter. Every night they roam the streets, partying, rioting, running away from their fears, their parents and the future, fighting to exist, killing time. They drink, steal cars, feel wrecked, play it cool, longing for real love and true freedom. Startlingly raw and deeply moving, While We Were Dreaming is the extraordinary debut novel by one of Germany’s most ambitious writers, full of passion, hope and despair.
A book like a fist… German literature has not seen such a debut for a long time, a book full of rage, sadness, pathos and superstition.Felicitas von Lovenberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
A Light Still Burns – Selim Özdoğan
Translated by Ayça Türkoğlu and Katy Derbyshire
V&Q Books, April 2023
Part 3 of the Anatolian Blues trilogy.
‘There are three ways to face life: put up with it, fight or flee.’
After eight years in Turkey, Gül leaves her native Anatolia and returns to Germany. Reunited with her husband Fuat, she observes life there from the margins. As age gives her ever deeper insight, she sees society change rapidly, and yet her ability to connect to the people around her remains constant.
Gül’s life is shaped by the melancholy of separation, but with her warm-hearted and accepting outlook she has learned to endure homesickness and longing. Full of emotions and poetry but told without sentimentality, Selim Özdoğan’s account of Gül’s journey is a tender and moving novel about home, cultural identity and a life between two worlds.
Ada’s Realm – Sharon Dodua Otoo
Translated by Jon-Cho Polizzi
Riverhead Books, March 23
Quercus Publishing, April 23
This was a New Books in German jury choice, for our original recommendation see here.
A kaleidoscopic novel spanning generations and continents, that reveals the connections between four women in their struggle for survival.
As their interwoven narratives converge on a modern day Ada, a young Ghanaian woman who finds herself pregnant, alone, in Berlin, searching for a home before her baby arrives, their shared spirit will find a way to help her break the vicious cycle of injustice.
This novel is a feat of imagination and breaks down simplistic notions of history as a straight line; one woman’s experience matters to another’s 400 years later, on a different continent. In this deeply moving, at times mordantly funny, ultimately hopeful book, there is a connection between all those fighting for love, for family, for justice, for a home.
Set to be one of the best books of 2023GQ Magazine
Translated by Lucy Jones
Penguin Classics, February 2023
Read The Guardian’s review here.
1960. The border between East and West Germany has closed.
For Elisabeth – a young painter – the GDR is her generation’s chance to build a glorious, egalitarian socialist future. For her brother Uli, it is a place of stricture and oppression. Separating them is the ever-wider chasm of the party line; over them loom the twin spectres of opportunity and fear, and the shadow of their defector brother Konrad. In prose as bold as a scarlet paint stroke, Brigitte Reimann battles with the clash of idealism and suppression, familial loyalty and desire. The result is this ground-breaking classic of post-war East German literature.
Liminal – Roland Schimmelpfennig
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
MacLehose Press, May 23
A thrilling, filmic immersion into Berlin’s legendary club scene – a skillfully told novel about the fragility of life.
Berlin, Görlitzer Park: The body of a young woman in a white wedding dress floats in the canal. Who is she, and where does she come from? Suspended drugs investigator Tommy trawls Berlin’s clubs and criminal clans to uncover the woman’s story.
On his odyssey through the city, he meets survivors and fighters, the lost and stranded from all over the world: from the Japanese tattoo master to the Indian fire-eater. Wide awake and dead tired, suspended between a dreamscape and reality, Tommy dives deeper and deeper into the Berlin underworld and into his own past.
A breathless noir novel that is as hard-hitting as it is emotional, exploring the fragility of life and our longing for community.
In the Belly of the Queen – Karosh Taha
Translated by Grashina Gabelmann
V&Q Books, April 2023
This book was a New Books in German jury choice, read our original recommendation here.
In her kaleidoscopic novel, Karosh Taha expands our ideas of class, race and gender as she loops two stories around an invisible lynchpin: a woman who defies all expectations, a blank canvas for projections from all those around her. Deftly translated by Grashina Gabelmann, the book can be explored from either end, creating two very different narratives.
With her evocative language, humour, and clever observations, Karosh Taha ensures this is a book you won’t want to put down.’Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, MISSY Magazin
Epic Annette: A Heroine’s Tale – Anne Weber
Translated by Tess Lewis
Indigo Press, August 22
Epic Annette is the extraordinary true story of Annette Beaumanoir: brilliant and fierce, she was a medical student living in a world at war who, at nineteen years old, joined the French Resistance and saved the lives of two Jewish children in Paris on the eve of their deportation to the camps.
Ruth Martin speaks with the author, the translator and the publisher of this exceptional prose poem for NBG here.
The Invisible Web (Black Forest Investigation V) – Oliver Bottini
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
MacLehose Press, May 23
In Inspector Louise Bonì’s fifth case, Oliver Bottini weaves a web of tension that traps all those who come too close.
Berlin: A man is beaten up, the attacker escapes undetected. As a trail leads to Freiburg, Chief Inspector Louise Bonì is sent to investigate.
It’s a complex case: the attacker appears to be a professional, the victim a secret service informer, the only witness knows more than she’s saying, and the domestic intelligence service is hovering in the background but refusing to cooperate. Industrial espionage appears to be at play, focused on the burgeoning solar energy sector.
The Acapulco – Simone Buchholz
Translated by Rachel Ward
Orenda Books, April 2023
Hamburg State Prosecutor Chastity Riley becomes involved in the horrifying, perplexing search for a violent serial killer targeting dancers from a club … the first book in an award-winning, wildly original, addictive series…
The coolest character in crime fiction … Darkly funny and written with a huge heartDoug Johnstone, Big Issue
Caustic, incisive prose. A street-smart, gutsy heroine. A timely and staggeringly stylish thrillerWill Carver
Head of Zeus, June 2023
A missing child. A desperate father. A terrible secret.
Serial killer Guido T has already confessed to two horrific child murders and led the Berlin police to the horribly disfigured bodies. The police are sure he is also the kidnapper and murderer of six-year-old Max, who disappeared without trace a year ago. But now Guido T, who is being held in the high-security ward of a psychiatric prison hospital, is staying silent. The investigators have no reliable evidence. And without the prisoner’s statement, Max’s parents will have no certainty and will never be able to say goodbye to their son.
But then an investigator from the homicide commission makes Max’s desperate father an unbelievable offer: he will smuggle the distraught parent into the hospital where Guido T is imprisoned. Max’s father will be listed as a fake patient, equipped with a fake medical record. He will be as close as he possibly can to the child killer, and plans to force the killer into a confession. Because nothing is worse than uncertainty.
Or so he thinks. Until he, as an inmate, learns the gruesome truth.
Anatomy of a Killer – Romy Hausmann
Quercus, August 2023
They say he’s a murderer. But how could he be?
Berlin, 2017: several young girls have been disappearing for the past fourteen years. Red ribbons show the police the way to their bodies, but there’s no trace of the killer.
One evening, internationally renowned philosophy professor and anthropologist Walter Lesniak is arrested on the suspicion of the murders in the presence of his daughter, Ann.
‘Professor Death’ becomes the headline of the tabloid press and Lesniak himself refuses to cooperate with the police. Ann is certain this is all some kind of mistake. And she will prove it. Yet, with the arrest of her father, she begins a journey into the unknown . . .
Deep Dark Blue – Seraina Kobler
Translated by Alexandra Roesch
Pushkin Press, November 2023
An atmospheric, contemporary police procedural set on Lake Zurich, introducing detective Rosa Zambrano
Water washes everything away, even the bodies.
Lake Zurich is Rosa Zambrano’s beat. Once a detective with the CID, she’s traded in serious crimes for the serenity of the water, patrolling it daily as the first female officer in Zurich’s maritime police force. But when the body of Dr Jansen, a renowned fertility doctor and successful biotech entrepreneur, is dredged up in a fisherman’s nets, Rosa must call on her old training to solve his murder.
This case hits close to home for Rosa – she’s a patient of Jansen’s, and had her eggs frozen at his clinic only days before he was killed. Her investigation leads her from opulent villas on Lake Zurich’s shores to genetic research labs and a thriving escort service on the outskirts of the city – and to four women, each of whom in their own way have rejected the hand they have been dealt by biology or fate.
The Murder of Anton Livius – Hansjörg Schneider
Translated by Astrid Freuler
Bitter Lemon Press, June 23
The latest in the international crime series featuring Inspector Peter Hunkeler, to follow on from the success of prize-winning The Basel Killings and Silver Pebbles, selected by the FT as a thriller of the month. Hunkeler is a legendary figure in German language crime fiction, often compared to Simenon, gruff, intuitive, endowed with a deep sense of psychology and a horror of social injustice. The city of Basel and neighbouring Alsace are evoked with great love by Schneider, who in real life lives on the same street and frequents the same bars and restaurants as Inspector Hunkeler.
Your Homeland Is Our Nightmare — An Antifascist Essay Collection
Authors: Fatma Aydemir, Simone Dede Ayivi, Max Czollek, Olga Grjasnowa, Enrico Ippolito, Sharon Dodua Otoo, Sasha Marianna Salzmann, Reyhan Şahin, Mithu Sanyal, Nadia Shehadeh, Margarete Stokowski, Deniz Utlu, Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, Vina Yun
Translators: Jon Cho-Polizzi, Thomas Benjamin Fuhr, Allison García, Wojtek Gornicki, Adrienne Merritt, Michael Sandberg, Be Schierenberg, Lou Silhol-Macher, Elizabeth Sun, Jonas Teupert, Didem Uca
Literarische Diverse Verlag, December 22
What does it mean to be asked to justify or defend your alleged ‘homeland’ or your family’s religious affiliation after every perceived crisis? After the NSU scandal, how much trust can we still place in the security apparatus of the German state? How does racism impact gender and sexuality?
This book is a manifesto against Heimat. In fourteen personal essays, contemporary authors provide insight on their daily lives, extending a mirror to German society to reflect its lived realities: a country that markets itself as a model for progressive democracy while simultaneously designating a segment of its population as Other—perpetually failing to protect or value their lives.
The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times – Wolfram Eilenberger
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Penguin Press, August 2023
[Eilenberger] patiently draws these four intellectual magi out of the shadows of their writings, which often tend toward complete opacity. The result is not a book of academic philosophy but rather an intellectual history that largely succeeds in bringing philosophy to life.The New York Times Book Review
In The Long Run We’re All Dead – Björn Frank
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
Haus Publishing, June 2023
Until the late nineteenth century, economics couldn’t even be studied at university and was the preserve of polymathic figures whose radical curiosity drew them to an evolving discipline that was little understood and often derided. Each of the thirteen chapters of this book tells the story of just such a figure. Each of their extraordinary lives is worthy of fiction, and the manner of their deaths, oddly, often illuminates their work.
This is a fascinating, readable, and quirky set of mini-biographies of some leading, and more obscure economists, united in having interesting lives and deaths. [Frank] manages to tell us something new about Keynes, List, Schumpeter and Thunen; and introduces us to the innovative Schmolder, the Nazi economist Stackelberg, the brave Soviet agricultural economist Chayanov and Richard Cantillon whose sophisticated monetary economics dates from three hundred years ago.Vince Cable
Love in a Time of Hate: Art and Passion in the Shadow of War – Florian Illies
Translated by Simon Pare
Riverhead, September 23
Profile Books, June 23
An ingeniously orchestrated popular history brings to life the most pivotal decade of the twentieth century. As the Roaring Twenties wind down, Jean-Paul Sartre waits in a Paris café for a first date with Simone de Beauvoir, who never shows. Marlene Dietrich slips away from a loveless marriage to cruise the dive bars of Berlin. The fledgling writer Vladimir Nabokov places a freshly netted butterfly at the end of his wife’s bed. Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Zelda and Scott, Dali and Gala, Picasso and his many muses, Henry and June and Anaïs Nin, the entire extended family of Thomas Mann, and a host of other fascinating and famous figures make art and love, write and fight, bed and wed and betray. They do not yet know that they, along with millions of others, will soon be forced to contemplate flight – or fight – as the world careens from one global conflict to the next.
Royal Heirs – Frank Lorenz Müller
Translated by Rona Johnston
Cambridge University Press, January 2023
Against the odds, monarchies flourished in nineteenth-century Europe. In an era marked by dramatic change and revolutionary upheaval, Europe’s monarchies experienced an unexpected late flowering. Royal Heirs focuses on the roles and personalities of the heirs to the throne from more than a dozen different dynasties that ruled the continent between the French Revolution and the end of the First World War. The book explores how these individuals contributed to the remarkable survival of the crowns they were born to wear.
Ranging from Norway to Spain and from Greece to Britain, Royal Heirs not only paints a vivid picture of a monarchical age, but also explores how such disparate monarchies succeeded in adapting to change and defending their position.
Of Cockroaches and Crickets: Learning to Love Creatures That Skitter and Jump – Frank Nischk
Translated by Jane Billinghurst
Greystone Books, February 2023
This deep dive into the wonderful world of insects teaches us to love the tiny, seemingly terrifying creatures all around us.
For many people, cockroaches are the most pesky of pests. Not so for entomologist Frank Nischk. In this funny and fascinating book, Frank reveals his love and admiration for so-called “nasty” creatures like cockroaches, crickets, and more. He shows us that even seemingly terrifying insects are beautiful in their own way―and essential to all life on Earth.
Zen in the Garden – Miki Sakamoto
Translated by Catherine Venner
Scribe, April 23
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter: wherever you are, the seasons come and go, bringing changes both welcome and unexpected.
Japanese by birth, but transplanted to Europe in adulthood, Miki Sakamoto has spent a lifetime tending her garden and reflecting on its mysteries. Why do primulas bloom in snow? Do the trees really ‘talk’ to one another? What are the blackbirds saying today? And is there a mindful way to deal with an aphid infestation?
From rising early to walk barefoot on the grass each morning, to afternoons and evenings spent sipping tea in her gazebo or watching fireflies as she recalls her childhood in Japan, in Zen in the Garden Sakamoto shares observations from a life spent in contemplation — and cultivation — of nature.
Infertility in Medieval and Early Modern Europe – Regina Toepfer
Translated by Dr Kate Sotejeff-Wilson
Palgrave Macmillan Cham, November 2022
This book examines discourses around infertility and views of childlessness in medieval and early modern Europe. Whereas in our own time reproductive behaviour is regulated by demographic policy in the interest of upholding the intergenerational contract, premodern rulers strove to secure the succession to their thrones and preserve family heritage. Regardless of status, infertility could have drastic consequences, above all for women, and lead to social discrimination, expulsion, and divorce.
Awkward Intelligence: Where AI Goes Wrong, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do about It – Katharina Zweig
Translated by Noah Harley
The MIT Press, October 2022
An expert offers a guide to where we should use artificial intelligence—and where we should not.
Before we know it, artificial intelligence (AI) will work its way into every corner of our lives, making decisions about, with, and for us. Is this a good thing? There’s a tendency to think that machines can be more “objective” than humans—can make better decisions about job applicants, for example, or risk assessments.
Zweig introduces readers to the basics of AI and presents a toolkit for designing AI systems. She explains algorithms, big data, and computer intelligence, and how they relate to one another. Finally, she explores the ethics of AI and how we can shape the process.
Childrens and YA
Carag’s Transformation – The Woodwalkers – Katja Brandis
Translated by Rachel Ward
Simon And Schuster Group USA, Feburary 23
At first glance, Carag looks like a normal boy. But behind his shining eyes hides a secret: Carag is a puma shapeshifter and has only recently started living in the human world. Half human, half mountain lion, Carag grew up in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.
Woodwalkers #2 A Dangerous Friendship – Katja Brandis
Translated by Rachel Ward
Arctis, March 23
It’s New Year and a new term is beginning at Clearwater High. The young shape-shifter Carag is excited to go on his first study expeditions into the human world with his friends.
Me, In Between – Julya Rabinowich
Translated by Claire Storey
Andersen Press, January 2022
Madina’s family have fled war to seek asylum in Europe and begin a hopeful new life. An ordinary world of fitting in at school, learning the language and forging friendships lies before Madina. Yet she finds herself caught between her new life and her traumatic memories of the past. With the endless wait to be granted asylum, and her anxious father growing ever more controlling, can Madina find the path that’s right for her?
Claire Storey’s skilful idiom plays a considerable part in making this challenging story readily accessible to UK readersBooks for Keeps, May 2022
Read an extract from Book Two Us, In Between on the website of the Litrix programme. English Rights available.
The Trilogy of Surfaces and Invisibilities – Nora Gomringer Translated by Annie Rutherford
Burning Eye Books, September 2022
Combining the collections Monster Poems, Morbus and Fashions, Nora Gomringer’s trilogy offers a modern anthropology. Gomringer shines a light on the all-too-human, plays with the superficial and loves the invisible. Accompanied by Reimar Limmer’s illustrations, these poems unpick ideas around the monstrous, the inscribed and gendered body and the face we present to the people around us. Packed with pop culture references and always casting an eye back to where we came from, The Trilogy of Surfaces and Invisibilities is a call for a radical humanism.
What’s coming soon? Click here to see which NBG jury choices are forthcoming in English in the next year or two.
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash