Romeo oder Julia, by Gerhard Falkner

Falkner cover

‘Romeo or Juliet’

Berlin Verlag, September 2017

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Sample Translation


Something strange happens to Kurt Prinzhorn at a writers’ meeting in Innsbruck: someone seems to have taken a very long bubble bath in the tub in his hotel room, purposely leaving behind traces. Yet nothing points to an intrusion by a stranger. Soon afterwards, the author runs into an old lover in Madrid, and the chain of odd incidents remains unbroken – until the pieces of the puzzle fall into place to form a picture that takes him far back into his past. But then, beneath the window of Prinzhorn’s room in Madrid, a woman’s dead body is found.


Gerhard Falkner was born in 1951 and is one of the most important German contemporary poets. He has published several volumes of poems, including Hölderlin Reparatur (‘Hölderlin Repair’), for which he received the Peter-Huchel-Prize in 2009. He has received numerous other awards and prizes. His novel Apollokalypse was nominated for the German Book Prize in 2016.

The jury’s comments:

Romeo oder Julia is composed of three parts, and in fact the novel calls to mind a triptych. Every word is painted with a delicate brush, every sentence sharpened to the finest point. On the surface, the novel concerns the adventures of a writer, but it is really about the adventure of language, the adventure of writing and how a world is created through language, a decision reached with every word – case in point: ‘Romeo OR Juliet’.