Welcome to German Literature Month – the perfect excuse to satisfy your inner Germanophile.

I left Germany 22 years ago and now that I have a blog to feed, I no longer read in German. (It takes too long.) But I do like to keep in touch with the German literary scene and have developed a 3-point strategy for doing so. I shall share as an encouragement.  If you follow some of these links, you’re bound to find something that you fancy reading. 😉

1) The wonderful resource that is New Books In German.  Packed full of interesting articles about – er – New Books in German and, more to my point, upcoming translations from German.   Published twice a year.  I read on average about 4 titles per edition and I simply cannot wait for the new Juli Zeh announced in this edition  … or the new Ferdinand von Shirach … and that book by Alissa Walser will be irresistible!

2) Publisher catalogues.  I systematically scour these for works translated from German, though some publishers have more Germanic content than others:  For example:.

  • Angel Classics – Publishers of Denis Jackson’s superlative translations of Theodor Storm’s poetic novellas and new translations of a couple from Theodor Fontane.
  • Europa Editions – Love these books.  Such beautiful objects, a great catalogue with a healthy contingent of contemporary German literature on the list.
  • Melville House Press – Somebody in MHP loves German literature.  Recent publications include sets of Böll and Fallada.  Novella lovers are catered for in both The Art of the Novella and The Contemporary Art of The Novella series.  Irmgard Keun can be found in their Neversink Library.  If  crime is your thing, check out Jakob Arjouni in their International Crime Series.
  • One World Classics – Currently celebrating 5 years in the business, there’s 40% off everything at the moment.  Hi thee over and grab yourself something for Classics Week! As you can, see in the photo, I have!
  • Peirene Press – IPG Newcomer of the Year 2011.   3 of Peirene’s first 6 titles were translated from German. And there’s another on the way in 2012.
  • Pushkin Press – An entire library of my favourite Austrians: Schnitzler and Zweig.  Delicious!
  • Seagull Books – Publishers of The German List and The Swiss List.  Interestingly, Seagull Press ask translators for recommendations and then commission them to translate!

3) Checking longlists and shortlists of translated fiction prizes:  The 3 Percent Prize, the International Foreign Fiction Prize.  The German Book Prize is also worth watching.  3 of the 7 winners have been now been translated.  I’ve read Julia Franck’s The Blind Side of the Heart.  Katherina Hacker’s The Have-Nots is in the TBR and I’ll have to save up for Arno Geiger’s We Are Doing Fine. The current asking price of £25 is simply too steep for an impulse purchase. Why so expensive?

As a result of that 3-point plan,  I have amassed a mountainous TBR of German literature – some of which is pictured above.  And no doubt, I will be wanting to add to it when I read of all your reading adventures during November.  Although German Literature Month is an event, not a reading challenge, the challenge for me will be a) to decide what to read (I am spoilt for choice) and b) not to add to the pile during November. Though I expect my wishlist will grow exponentially!

Finally, have you decided your reading list?  lf not, permit me to make a suggestion for each of our themed weeks:

German Fiction Week: The Blind Side of the Heart – Julia Franck / Crime Week: Dark Matter – Juli  Zeh / From Austria / Switzerland:  Selected Stories – Stefan Zweig / Classics Week: The Sufferings Of  Young Werther – Goethe

So, all ready now? Eins, zwei, drei ….. los!


Next on German Literature Month:  14 Women Writers You Shouldn’t Miss