Jury recommendations: Spring 2024

We are delighted to unveil our spring 2024 selection. The jury handpicked these titles from a pool of over a hundred submissions sent by publishers. Each book showcased here captivated the jurors not just for its excellence, but for its suitability for an English-speaking audience.

All the titles featured here are supported by our translation funding guarantee.

The books are arranged alphabetically by author surname and categorised into fiction and nonfiction. You can easily download a PDF with all of the information on the book from the respective book page.

Fiction

ruh (ruh) by Şehnaz Dost, Ecco Verlag

‘ruh’ is a subtle and moving account of a father-daughter relationship under the shadow of divorce and racism, highlighting the everyday angst and struggles of a man torn between his life in Germany and his Turkish-Arabic heritage.

Story of Disorder (Geschichte der Unordnung) by Simon Elson, Aufbau Verlage

Simon Elson’s debut novel is a modern coming-of-age story: it reads like a 21st-century take on Goethe’s autobiographical classic, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and is a stand-out example of the auto-fictional genre that is so prevalent in contemporary German-language literature. 

Lemons (Zitronen) by Valerie Fritsch, Suhrkamp Verlag

‘Lemons’ is an intriguing and deftly handled exploration of coercive control within a parent-child relationship, reminding us how relationship patterns can repeat through the generations. 

Everyday Life, Suspended (Weltalltage) by Paula Fürstenberg, Kiepenheuer & Witsch

‘Everyday Life, Suspended’ is a friendly, funny, and seductive work of fiction about a friendship between two young Germans with a morbid interest in disease and the body. 

Islands of Light (Wie Inseln im Licht) by Franziska Gänsler, Kein & Aber

Franziska Gänsler’s latest novel, set on the Côte d’Argent, is a haunting story of loss, grief, and new beginnings.

The Weight of a Bird in Flight (Das Gewicht eines Vogels beim Fliegen) by Dana Grigorcea, Penguin

Dora, a writer, goes to the Ligurian coast to write the story of an elusive statuette and its creator, the sculptor Constantin Avis, who took it to New York a century earlier. Writing his story – Constantin is taken under the wing of a gallery owner, has a love affair with Lidy, a photographer, and finds his way around the art scene – Dora grapples with the process of creation.  

The Time of the Cicadas (Die Zeit der Zikaden) by Moritz Heger, Diogenes

‘The Time of the Cicadas’ is a literary triumph: an arresting contemporary novel set in Germany and Italy, about the experience of aging and the desire for a change of place and identity.  

Content (Content) by Elias Hirschl, Paul Zsolnay Verlag

‘Content’ is a surreal, deadpan, postmodern satire of social media and meaningless jobs in the era of deindustrialisation. 

Mayfly Season (Maifliegenzeit) by Matthias Jügler, Penguin

A gripping and tense tale of a father-son reunion, dealing with a deeply sinister yet little-known GDR phenomenon. 

Hans and Katrin have a son, Daniel, in 1978, but the day after the birth, doctors tell the couple the baby has died from a weak heart on the way to the children’s hospital. Katrin is convinced the doctors are lying and Daniel is still alive; she leaves Hans a few weeks later.  

Grass (Gras) by Bernhard Kegel, Doerlemann

In Bernhard Kegel’s thought-provoking science fiction novel, an unknown grass species sprouts up across Berlin and takes an aggressive hold over the metropolis, proving resistant to all herbicides. ‘Grass’ paints a catastrophic picture of the consequences of climate change, as nature rebels against centuries of human appropriation.  

Issa (Issa) by Mirrianne Mahn, Rowohlt

It is 2006 and Issa is a reluctant passenger on a plane to her birth country of Cameroon, which she left aged five when her mother moved to the German provinces. Now in her twenties, she is pregnant, and her mother is convinced she will die in childbirth if she does not undertake protective rituals in her homeland. 

Above Earth, Below Heaven (Oben Erde, unten Himmel) by Milena Michiko Flašar, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach

Set in present-day Japan, ‘Above Earth, Below Heaven’ is a clear-eyed and humorous novel about relationships, life and death, and how friendships and interdependencies are formed. 

The World Behind the Hedge (Hinter der Hecke die Welt) by Gianna Molinari, Aufbau Verlage

Gianna Molinari’s gem of a novel alternates between two equally captivating settings: a tiny Swiss village on the verge of disappearing, and an Arctic research expedition. The lyrical simplicity of Molinari’s prose invites readers to step right into ‘The World Behind the Hedge’, and to feel as though they belong there. 

Where Does the Light go when the Day is Over? (Wo geht das Licht hin, wenn der Tag vergangen ist) by Nadine Olonetzky, S. Fischer Verlag

‘Where Does the Light Go When the Day is Over’ is original in its intertextuality and the wider themes it looks at. It is a powerful, highly moving and profound Shoah memoir that stands head and shoulders above many books dealing with comparable subjects.

The Possibility of Happiness (Die Möglichkeit von Glück) by Anne Rabe, Klett-Cotta

Anne Rabe’s impressive debut novel is a SPIEGEL bestseller, was shortlisted for both the 2023 German Book Prize and the Aspekte Debut Prize, and continues to receive widespread critical acclaim.

Realtimes (Echtzeitalter) by Tonio Schachinger, Rowohlt

Winner of the 2023 German Book Prize, ‘Realtimes’ tells the coming-of-age story of protagonist Till in a famous Viennese elite school, as he deals with petty middle-class ideals and a reactionary educational environment. 

White Clouds (Weiße Wolken) by Yandé Seck 

‘White Clouds’ is an intimate study of a diverse and extended Black German family that addresses complex social issues. It follows three family members as they grapple with their unique stages in life and their distinct identities. 

blue the wond, black the night (blau der wind, schwarz die nacht) by Anna Stern, lectorbooks

Set in modern Switzerland, Anna Stern’s innovative novel explores the boundaries between individuals, roles, and language(s), and between reality and delusion, in an unsettling world where trauma, war and environmental decline are never far away. 

Write Your Mother’s Name (Schreib den Namen deiner Mutter) by Evan Tepest, Piper Verlag

An exploration of family relationships, memory, guilt, and trauma alongside a coming-of-gender story.  

The Journey Home (Die Heimreise) by Vladimir Vertlib, Residenz

‘The Journey Home’ is an absorbing work of historical fiction, based on stories told by the author’s mother and relatives and telling the tale of a young Jewish woman’s arduous journey home from Kazakhstan to Leningrad.

Gale Force 17 (Windstärke 17) by Caroline Wahl, DuMont Verlag

Caroline Wahl’s absorbing novel tells the story of a young woman coming to terms with the death of her alcoholic mother.

Glimmer of Light (Lichtungen) by Iris Wolff, Klett-Cotta

‘Glimmer of Light’ is a beautiful work of literary fiction depicting a lifelong friendship alongside the changes wrought on Romania under Communism and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. As befits its title, the novel reads like a sequence of bright, clear moments in the characters’ lives.

Desire (Begehren) by Urs Zürcher

Urs Zürcher offers a fascinating tableau of life in contemporary Switzerland, told from the perspectives of four friends in their forties who are caught up in an erotically charged network of conflict and desire.

Nonfiction

They Came to the Holy Land (Unterwegs ins Morgenland) by Bernd Brunner, Galiani Berlin

Accomplished author, Bernd Brunner, brings us a detailed history of people who have travelled East to visit the Holy Land either as pilgrim or adventurer, and their reasons for doing so. 

Deported: ‘Always with one foot in the grave’ (Experiences of German Jews) (Deportiert. »Immer mit einem Fuß im Grab« – Erfahrungen deutscher Juden) by Andrea Löw, S. Fischer

Acclaimed Holocaust Studies professor Andrea Löw explores the lived experiences of Third Reich Jews during the Holocaust. ‘Deported’ examines how the National Socialist regime implemented the deportation of the Jewish population to the ghettos, and later to the extermination camps of Eastern Europe. The book hinges on the written testimony of hundreds of deportees and victims. 

It’s the taking part that counts (Dabei sein wäre alles) by Martin Krauß, C.Bertelsmann

Experienced sports journalist and author, Martin Krauß, has written an accessible history of modern sport. ‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ analyses the social and political significance of sport, including the long tradition of using sport to include or exclude particular groups of people. 

The Mystery of the Shaman (Das Rätsel der Schamanin: Eine archäologische Reise zu unseren Anfängen) by Harald Meller and Kai Michel

Taking the story of the 9000-year-old Shaman of Bad-Dürrenberg as their starting point and anchor, Harald Meller (an archaeologist and academic) and Kai Michel (a writer on the evolution of human behaviour and historical issues) present a broad and readable exploration of a variety of spiritual and historical issues. 

Last Paths to Freedom. French girl guides in resistance to Nazi Germany (Letzte Wege in die Freiheit: sechs Pfadfinderinnen im Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus) by Thomas Seiterich, S. Hirzel Verlag

A thrilling historical account of the ‘Équipe Pur-Sang’ resistance group, ‘Last Paths to Freedom’ tells the story of six girl guides in Nazi-occupied Alsace, who risked their lives to save hundreds of prisoners and refugees from German persecution in the Second World War.

Photo by Aniket Bhattacharya on Unsplash


Spring 2024 Jury selections

[book reviews will appear here…]