Die Kieferninseln, by Marion Poschmann

Poschmann cover

‘The Pine Islands’

Suhrkamp, September 2017

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Sample Translation


University lecturer and beard researcher Gilbert Silvester is in shock. Last night, he dreamt that his wife was cheating on him. So, in an absurd knee-jerk reaction, he leaves her, boards the first possible plane and flies off to Japan to get some distance. There, he happens upon the classical poet Bashō’s travelogues and suddenly he has a goal: like the ancient wandering monks, he too wants to see the moon over the pine islands. But before he can even set off, he encounters the student Yosa, who is on the road with a very different type of travel reading: the Complete Manual of Suicide.


Marion Poschmann was born in 1969 in Essen and studied German Studies, Philosophy and Slavic Studies. She currently lives in Berlin. Poschmann has been recognised for her poetry and prose many times, and was most recently awarded the 2011 Peter Huchel Prize and the 2011 Ernst Meister Prize for poetry.


The jury’s comments:

With the intensity of a haiku, Marion Poschmann deposits an unforgettable pair of characters in the literary landscape. Following the two of them as they roam through the hustle and bustle of the big city and mythical realms, with Matsuo Bashō and a suicide manual for company, is pure reading pleasure! The novel is a journey through life in which two contrasting characters with opposing aims develop their inner selves and rush toward their vocations. Every detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant, becomes poetry. The way Poschmann shifts perspective from wide angle to zoom, from inner to outer world, gives the book its pace and subtle suspense. By tracing Bashō’s footsteps, she builds a bridge across eras. Skilful, refreshing and light, but with great depth.