German Book Prize 2023: the shortlist

As official English language media partner for the German Book Prize 2023, we are delighted to announce the shortlist of six books. Our warm congratulations to all of the nominated authors and their publishers.

The Shortlist

172 novels from 111 publishers across Austria, Germany and Switzerland – and now we are proud to announce the shortlist of six!

Clicking on a cover will take you to further information on the book.

Terézia Mora: Muna oder Die Hälfte des Lebens (Muna, or Half of Life)

Luchterhand Literaturverlag, August 2023.
Read a sample translation by Ruth Martin here.

Muna loves Magnus. Whether Magnus loves anyone – and if so, who – is hard to say. What happens when you spend your life depending on someone else?

“I know what you want,” he says. “You won’t get it.” Muna is about to graduate from high school when she meets Magnus, a French teacher and photographer. She spends the night with him. When the Berlin Wall comes down, he disappears. Seven years later, they meet again – and become a couple. Muna thinks she has found the love of her life. But as soon as they take their first trip together, cracks start showing in their relationship. Over the years the coldness, unpredictability and violence get worse. But Muna isn’t willing to give up.

For foreign rights information contact:

Gesche Wendebourg  +49 89 /4136-3313 

gesche.wendebourg@penguinrandomhouse.de  


Necati Öziri: Vatermal (Birthmark)

(claassen, July 2023).
Read a sample translation by Sheridan Marshall here.

A novel of radical truth, anger, love, and longing emerging from the absences left by labor migration, flight and return. 

Arda does not know how much time he has left. He is lying in a hospital in his hometown with organ failure. His mother Ümran and his sister Aylin take turns sitting at his bedside, careful never to meet. The two have not spoken a word to each other for ten years.

In a long farewell letter, Arda turns to his father, whom he has never met. He came to Germany escaping a politically motivated trial. Years later, he snuck out of his pregnant wife’s bed to return to Turkey and be arrested at the airport. Arda tells the stranger about growing up in Germany without citizenship, without a passport and without a father, of birthdays at the foreign nationals’ office, and about the last summer before all his friends disappear: Bojan is deported, Danny becomes a father much too early, and Savaș returns to Turkey after losing his mother.

This is also the story of Ümran whose parents came to Germany after losing their house to an earthquake, leaving their children behind. And it is Aylin’s story. The big sister who ran away from a home that held few childhood memories of their father and a complicated relationship to their mother, and struggled to find her place in the world.

In the most urgent yet almost musical language, Necati Öziri paints the portrait of a family whose lives and bodies are marked by social and political circumstances.

For foreign rights information contact:

Annemarie Blumenhagen, Rights Director, Subsidiary Rights and Permissions

+49 30 23456 450 

annemarie.blumenhagen@ullstein.de 


Anne Rabe: Die Möglichkeit von Glück (The Possibility of Happiness)

Klett-Cotta, March 2023.
Read a sample translation by Lizzy Kinch here.

Stine is born in the mid-1980s in a small town on the East German Baltic coast, a child of reunification. She is too young to understand the change of system in the GDR, but her family’s complex ideological views have an impact on the next generation. As her relatives hide the lost world behind an impenetrable silence, Stine finds herself asking questions she can no longer repress. Anne Rabe has written a clear-sighted and unsettling book with great literary power – a mixture of non-fiction and literature, knowledgeably researched and at the same time captivatingly beautiful. She traces the wounds of a generation that grew up between dictatorship and democracy, and explores the origins of racism and violence.

For foreign rights information contact:

Ms. Frauke Kniffler Klett-Cotta Verlag f.kniffler@klett-cotta.de
Rotebuehlstr. 77 | 70178 Stuttgart | Telephone +49 711 6672-1257 | www.klett-cotta.de


Tonio Schachinger: Echtzeitalter (Realtimes)

Rowohlt Verlag, March 2023

An elite boarding school in Vienna, housed within what used to be the Hapsburgs’ summer residence. The form tutor is an old-fashioned and despotic man. What could anyone hope to learn here that they could actually use in real life? Till Kokorda has no time for the canon or for this snobbish environment. His passion is gaming – specifically the real-time strategy game “Age of Empires 2”. After his father dies, Till’s hobby becomes a financial imperative. Although nobody at the school knows it, Till is an online celebrity at the age of 15 – the youngest Top-10 player in the world. But how real is this kind of happiness? In 2020, his final year at the school, nothing goes the way Till had expected it to, either at school or in life. 
Tonio Schachinger’s novel moves between almost-universal experiences and places that most of us are unfamiliar with. At the same time his writing is surprising, his humour unpretentious and accessible: Realtimes is an example and proof of the timeless power of a good story. And a great social novel.   

English Website: https://www.rowohlt.de/verlag/rights/book/tonio-schachinger-echtzeitalter-9783498003173 

For foreign rights information contact: 

https://www.rowohlt.de/verlag/rights | lizenzen@rowohlt.de


Sylvie Schenk: Maman (Maman)

Carl Hanser Verlag, February 2023

Sylvie Schenk’s book Maman paints a loving portrait of her own mother, which develops into a painful reckoning.  

Sylvie Schenk’s mother was born in Lyon in 1916, and her grandmother died during her mother’s birth. Allegedly she was a silk worker, like her great-grandmother. But was this true? And what family history will be passed on to the next generation? As a child, Sylvie Schenk suffered from this lack of clarity, which still affects her today – a writer tormented by restlessness. With lyrical precision, she retraces the questions that her family history has left open.  

Maman is both a daring endeavour and a highly explosive work of literature. After Schnell, dein Leben Schenk has managed once again to write a beautiful, fiery book. 

For foreign rights information contact:

Friederike Barakat, +49 (0)89 99830509, friederike.barakat@hanser.de 

Ulrike Sterblich: Drifter (Drifter)

Rowohlt Verlag Hundert Augen, July 2023

Wenzel and Killer have been friends for ages and are well-established in their lives. Killer works as a PR chief for a large company, while Wenzel manages social media channels for a TV network. However, everything changes when Vica enters their lives: a woman in a golden dress, often accompanied by two loyal adjutants and a huge shaggy dog. With each encounter, new questions arise: How does she know so much about Wenzel and Killer? Why does she possess a copy of the new book by Drifter, an enigmatic author, even before its release? And where did her dog learn to dance? As Vica takes over the apartment building of their childhood, the world of these two friends begins to shake. 


With virtuoso storytelling, and even a touch of fantasy, Ulrike Sterblich narrates the tale of two friends whose reality is increasingly shifting. 

For foreign rights information contact: 

https://www.rowohlt.de/verlag/rights | lizenzen@rowohlt.de


Prize money and presentation ceremony

The German Book Prize is worth a total of 37,500 euros. The winner receives 25,000 euros, the other five shortlisted authors receive 2,500 euros each. The German Book Prize 2023 will be presented in the Kaisersaal at Frankfurt’s Römer on the evening of October 16th – a first event marking the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The six authors will not find out which of them is to receive the German Book Prize until the evening of the official presentation.

To view the twenty books nominated for this year’s prize, along with sample translations in English and information on the jury, please click here.