Schlafende Sonne, by Thomas Lehr

Lehr cover

‘Sleeping Sun’

Carl Hanser, August 2017

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Sample Translation


A century of Germany – in one day. Rudolf Zacharias travels to Berlin to attend the opening of an exhibition by his former student Milena Sonntag. With her exhibition ‘Sleeping Sun’, Milena takes artistic stock not only of her life, but of her era. Like pictures in an exhibition, this novel tells of the historical catastrophes and private entanglements of three people, taking us from the battlefields of the First World War all the way to present-day Berlin.


Thomas Lehr was born in Speyer in 1957 and now lives in Berlin. He has received numerous awards for his work, most recently the Joseph Breitbach Prize in 2015. Publications by Hanser include Größenwahn passt in die kleinste Hütte (Kurze Prozesse, 2012) as well as the novels September. Fata Morgana (2010), 42 (2013), Zweiwasser (2014) and Nabokovs Katze (2016).

The jury’s comments:

Starting from a single day, Thomas Lehr attempts to come to terms with an entire century, creating a narrative labyrinth within which he confidently situates the era’s complex events and upheavals, literally giving them new expression. Through a combination of riveting storytelling, reflection and aesthetic daring, he breaks with our patterns of perception, turning literature itself into an instrument of awareness. Page after page we experience new views on the seemingly familiar: an archive of the senses, of consciousness and of all the overlapping realms on which our apparent knowledge feeds.