What to Read for German Lit Month?


Thanks to Caroline and Lizzy for once again hosting German Lit Month in November. This year, Caroline is hosting a readalong of Walter Kempowski’s Alles Umsonst (All for Nothing), and Lizzy will discuss Swiss and Austrian crime fiction.

I’ve been able to read a little ahead, so I have a few posts planned already. But now I can’t decide what else to read. Maybe you can help me. Which of these would you read?

25120085Peter Richter, 89/90

From the innocence of the last summer of East Germany’s existence to the street fights around German reunification, in this autobiographic novel, Peter Richter describes the chaotic end of East Germany from the perspective of a then-16-year-old.

I don’t think this one is available in English, but I read the first chapter and I think I will like it.

17289087Timur Vermes, Er Ist Wieder Da (Look Who’s Back)

Look at this cover! Isn’t it fascinating how much it conveys, despite being so Spartan? Yet despite the very many positive reviews out there, I still am not sure if I am ready to read a novel about Hitler’s return. I think I just need to sit down and do it.



16004915Lukas Bärfuss, Hundert Tage (One Hundred Days)

This one sounds interesting because of its setting: “A young idealist, David arrives in Rwanda in 1990 to work for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. He finds a life of postcolonial privilege and boredom, inhabited by expats who know little about Rwandans and cannot be bothered to learn the local language. Relief from boredom comes with civil war…” (from Goodreads)

566200Lilian Faschinger, Magdalena Sünderin (Magdalena the Sinner)

The description of this book made me laugh, and I found it so irresistible that I simply had to purchase it: “Written with pace, humor and startling literary allusion, Lilian Faschinger’s novel is the story of the sensual Magdalena, who, disguised in a nun’s habit, kidnaps a priest at gunpoint and drives him in the sidecar of her Puch motorbike to a remote forest clearing where she ties him to a tree. What she is about to confess to him is profoundly shocking…” (from Goodreads)

25414049Robert Seethaler, Ein Ganzes Leben (A Whole Life)

This one has been shortlisted for the Booker International Prize, and my mom brought it when she visited this summer: “Set in the mid-twentieth century and told with beauty and tenderness, [the protagonist’s] story is one of man’s relationship with an ancient landscape, of the value of solitude, the arrival of the modern world, and above all, of the moments, great and small, that make us who we are.” (from Goodreads)

25102655Werner Bräunig, Rummelplatz

The English translation of this novel was published earlier this year by Seagull Books: “Werner Bräunig was once regarded as the great hope of East German literature—until an extract from Rummelplatz was read before the East German censorship authorities in 1965, and fierce opposition summarily sealed its fate. The novel’s sin? It painted an all too accurate picture of East German society.” (from Goodreads). I really want to read this, but it’s big…



  1. Ooo, I’ve just had a thought! I just might hold onto my ‘Alone in Berlin’ review post it in November – boom! As to the books suggested, I’ve not read any, and while I understand your misgivings about ‘Look Who’s Talking’, that’s probably the one I’d choose.

    • I am looking forward to your review of Alone in Berlin. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a few years now (mostly because I don’t like the narrow margins of the edition I have). Look Who’s Back has gotten two votes so far, whereas every other book has gotten one. So I am currently resolved to start reading as soon as I finish my current book.

  2. Rummelplatz sounds great, but I’d really like you to read One Hundred Days, firstly because it sounds intriguing, and secondly because if you decided it was good I could add it to my Around the World challenge list…

    • Maybe you could lend me some of your reading speed, and then I will definitely have time to get to One Hundred Days next month. And thanks for reminding me that I am attempting to read around the world, too. 🙂

  3. Obviously, I haven’t read any of them. But I don’t think you could go too far wrong with any of them – they all sound good, depending on your mood. If I had to choose one right now, I would go with Look Who’s Back or Magdalena the Sinner – now that I’ve read the blurbs, I *have* to know what happens!

    • I’m hoping that all these votes for Look Who’s Back is the final incentive I need to finally read it. You don’t know how often I’ve picked up Magdalena the Sinner already because I want to know what happens, too, but then I’ve always put it back down to read something else. Poor book!

    • I would really like to read it to get some exposure for the recent English translation. We won’t have anyone over for Thanksgiving this year, so maybe the 4-day weekend will give me some of the needed time to read this chunkster.

  4. I’m another reader who didn’t take to the Seethaler, but I’d be interested to see another perspective on it. 89/90 sounds very promising from the blurb – that period is such a fascinating one, plenty of potential for good fiction there. I hope you enjoy whatever you end up choosing. 🙂

    • Was there anything in particular you didn’t like about the Seethaler? I read the first few pages of 89/90, and I think he got the “teenage slang” down pretty well. It reminds me of how my friends and I were at that age. It would be interesting to see if that connection can hold up for the entire book.

      • It felt a bit thin to me, especially given the praise it seems to have received in some quarters. (For a new book in translation, it’s had quite a lot of coverage over here including a reading on Radio 4’s Book of the Week/Book at Bedtime.) I also found the passive nature of the central character quite frustrating at times. It’s a pity as I’d been looking forward to reading it…

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