Although Everything is Over
Obwohl alles vorbei ist

Schöffling & Co.
January 2023 / 296pp


Franziska Gerstenberg’s second novel is narrated from four different perspectives, focusing on a family crisis that plays out against the wider socio-historical backdrop of the last twenty years. 

The novel begins in 2000, with Charlotte’s story. Living alone in Berlin, she dreams of married bliss and motherhood, and Simon, whom she meets by chance, seems to fit the bill. Just as their relationship is taking off, her parents are killed in a car crash – on 11 September 2001 – and the small advertising agency she works for goes under in the difficult economic climate. Charlotte then persuades Simon – against his will – to move to her parents’ former home in Dresden and start a family.  

The second part of the book is written from the perspective of their daughter Greta, nine years on, when the marriage has gone sour and there are constant rows. The third section of the narrative – another nine years on – is written from the viewpoint of their teenage son, Karl. Physically and emotionally stunted by the family drama, he begins to stalk his outwardly much more successful sister, setting up a camera in her room and hacking into her social media account. He discovers that she and her fellow climate campaigners are planning ‘something big’ at an election rally. After doing his own research into global warming, Karl decides that peaceful protest is not enough, and starts building a bomb. 

The final section – set three months later – gives Simon’s perspective. We learn that Greta is dead, having fallen from a roof after getting high on drugs and alcohol at a party. Simon takes his anger out on Karl, whom Charlotte sends to Berlin to take up an internship with her ex-employer. Karl matures and makes a new life for himself, while Charlotte and Simon face up to their mistakes and decide to make the best of their life together.               

Highly readable and cleverly constructed, the story is gripping and engages the reader’s emotions throughout, with a moving ending that offers some comfort despite the tragic events that unfold. The language is notable for its clarity, simplicity and precise observation and there are touches of dry humour. But there is pathos, too, particularly in the scenes between Karl and his father, and in Simon’s closing reflections. The wider themes that the novel raises – intergenerational tension, familial guilt, the need for tolerance and understanding – are universal, and the topical references, including 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and global warming, paint a picture of the twenty-first century that an international readership will readily recognise.

press quotes

A well-constructed and moving novel that engages the reader both in terms of the immediate family drama and the wider philosophical question of how to learn from our mistakes and make the best of the world we have made for ourselves.

Sharon Howe, Reader

Although Everything is Over is both a thrilling love story and a tragic account of the oldest battlefield – the one known as family – that leaves nobody unscathed.

Inger-Maria Mahlke

A novel of maturation the likes of which has never been seen before! […] Franziska Gerstenberg tells a virtuoso and captivating story of a family in which dreams become such unrelenting nightmares that only love can free them. There is so much world and contemporary history in this psychologically subtle and unsparing analysis that the novel develops an ever-stronger pull from page to page […]. Although Everything is Over – a book you can’t forget.

Lucy Fricke

about the author

© Alberto Novelli

Franziska Gerstenberg, born in 1979, lives in Wendland with her family. She has received numerous stipends and literary prizes. Her first novel, Play with Her, won the Förderpreis zum Lessingpreis des Freistaates Sachsen; her stories So Long Ago and Not Even True Any More won the Sächsischer Literaturpreis 2016. Parts of Although Everything Is Over were written during her stay at the Villa Massimo.


Other works: Wie viel Vögel, Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH (2004); Solche Geschenke, Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH (2007) Solche Geschenke, published in English by: Words Without Borders – US (first serial) – rights revered; Spiel mit ihr, Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH (2012); So lange her, schon gar nicht mehr wahr, Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH (2016).

rights information

Schöffling & Co

Contact: Marie Jansen

translation assistance

Applications should be made to the Goethe-Institut.

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