New from Germany

books1 My mom and sister were visiting from Germany over the weekend for a family event. The visit was too short, as usual. But now our hearts and souls are stocked with new memories and family time, our pantry is stocked with Mövenpick coffee and Milka chocolate, and my bookshelf is stocked with a few new German books.

  • Erich Kästner, Der Gang vor die Hunde. I know Erich Kästner mostly as children’s author of such classics as Emil and the Detectives, The Parent Trap, and The Flying Classroom. But he wrote for adults as well. In 1931, his novel Fabian was published, but it was greatly edited by the publisher because of its decadent and obscene content. Der Gang vor die Hunde is Kästner’s original version, painting “a deeply pessimistic” picture of Germany at the end of the Weimar Republic.
  • Edda Ziegler, Verboten, Verfemt, Vertrieben. Last year’s German Literature Month brought this book to my attention. It is a collection of biographies of German women writers who opposed the Nazis. This book is not available in English and almost impossible to get in the U.S. Thanks to my mom, I now own a copy.
  • Jenny Erpenbeck, Aller Tage Abend. The End of Days is Erpenbeck’s latest offering and made the shortlist of the Foreign Fiction Prize this year. The reviews I’ve read all sounded promising, so I’m excited to finally sample her work. (My mom found the book depressing.)
  • Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Collected Works. I’ve planned to read the novella The Jews’ Beech Tree for my TBR Pile challenge this year. Quite by coincidence, my mom found this book at home, which includes the novella, and decided to bring it along. Over the years, this particular book has accompanied various members of my extended family, and its story has already made it invaluable to me. Now I can’t wait to start reading.
  • In high school, I was a big fan of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a Swiss author and dramatist. I’m curious to find out how I will like re-reading his work.


  1. When I go to Germany, I usually buy a couple of books just to test my reading capability – a bit slower than with English works, but I enjoy the challenge of reading the original when I can.

  2. How lovely, and what a nice selection of books! I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on the Erpenbeck – I couldn’t resist buying a copy as a treat (well, one of several) for finishing my #TBR20. I have a Durrenmatt on my shelves, too. It’ll be my first by this author, so it’s good to hear you enjoyed his books when you were in high school.

      • Thank you. That’s a very kind offer…I may have to pass, though. The next couple of months could be a little difficult for me (I’m going to say more about this in a #TBR20 reflections post I hope to have up in the next day or two). Also, I was thinking of saving the Erpenbeck for German Lit Month in Nov (or Women in Translation month in August). August might work, and it would be great to read along with you, but please don’t let me hold you back if you want to get to it in the next month of two! 🙂

      • I hope “difficult months” doesn’t mean “bad months”! I was thinking about saving Erpenbeck for Women in Translation, but my list of potential books for August is already too long… 🙂

      • Books aside, I haven’t had the best start to the year…seing the light at the end of the tunnel now! My #TBR20 post is up and I’ve mentioned it there. No worries about the Erpenbeck – I look forward to reading your review! 🙂

  3. It’s fun to have family come visit, but even more fun when they bring books – especially hard-to-get books! I am going to be a little bit envious if you tell me you can read in German. 🙂

    • It was a great visit! I think we all had a good time. I grew up in Germany and didn’t move to the U.S. until I was 19, so reading in German is no big deal for me. Certainly no need for envy.

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