Final Thoughts on German Literature Month 2016

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I know that some of you, including my co-host, are extending German Literature Month through December. I am not keen on extending events, so this is my goodbye to GLM.

A usual, the event was a success. There have been 119 reviews so far. Normally I try to read as many reviews as possible but November was too hectic and upsetting to do so. I still hope to visit a few of you. In any case, thank you so much for participating.

I’ve done quite well with my reading plans this year, but I haven’t reviewed everything I’ve read. Tony wrote about Judith Herrmann’s collection Lettipark here. I felt pretty much the same about the book, so I skipped the review. I’ll return to some stories, but overall it left me rather cold.

I never got to reading the fantasy novel I intended to read nor another short story collection but that’s OK. I’m especially glad I read Walter Kempowski and Uwe Timm.

I loved Capus’ novel when I read it but it’s already fading. Not the best sign. I enjoyed returning to Ursula P. Archer aka Ursula Poznanski and will read more of her crime and YA novels.

Thank you again for participating.

 

Welcome to German Literature Month

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Finally it’s November. Those of you who follow my blog might have noticed I was a bit quiet in the last weeks. With good reason. I was busy reading German, Austrian, and Swiss literature.

As you know, Lizzy and I have decided to do a “Read as you please month” with only two themed weeks.

A crime week during week two, hosted by Lizzy.

All For Nothing

The Literature and War Readalong on November 25, in which we read and discuss Walter Kempowski’s WWII novel All For Nothing – Alles umsonst.

For those who are still looking for titles, here are the books I have already read and those I’m still planning to read.

Weit über das Land

Peter Stamm’s latest novel. I must admit, I might not review it. It’s the worst book I’ve read this year. I can still not believe he wrote something like this.

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Judith Hermann’s new short story collection Lettipark. I’ve not finished this yet but I can already see that it’s a mixed bag.

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Karen Köhler’s short story collection Wir haben Raketen geangelt.

I bought this collection a while ago but haven’t read it yet. When I was looking for reviews of Judith Hermann’s book I saw it mentioned a few times. Most critics came to the conclusion that readers would do better to read Köhler instead of Hermann. I’ll let you know what I think.

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I’ve only heard great things about Uwe Timm’s memoir In My Brother’s ShadowAm Beispiel meines Bruders. As far as I can tell, (I read the beginning), it’s amazing.

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Almost Like SpringFast ein bisschen Frühling, is my first Alex Capus and if the rest is as good as the beginning, it won’t be my last.

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Last year I read Ursula Poznanski’s Erebos and was pretty much blown away. While I liked Five – Fünf a bit less, it’s still a really gripping book. You may have noticed that her adult crime novels are published under another name, Ursula P. Archer, in English. If you’re still looking for a page turner for crime week and are not too squeamish, you’ll enjoy this.

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These are my plans so far. I might add some Walter Benjamin and one of the fantasy novels by Nina Blazon Der Winter der schwarzen Rosen (not translated yet).

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I hope you’re all busy making plans and wish you all a great month. I hope you’ll discover a lot of great books. Happy Reading!

 

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There will be a few giveaways.

Here’s a sneak peek.

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Please add your reviews to this site German Literature Month.

Announcing German Literature Month VI

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“Who would want to be without Caroline and Lizzy’s German Literature Month?” asks Sally-Ann Spencer in the 20th anniversary edition of New Books in German. The good news is that neither Lizzy nor I want to be without it. So it is our great pleasure to announce that German Literature Month VI is now inked in our diaries for this coming November.
Albeit a little less structured than in previous iterations. We’ve learned that regular participants are not short of ideas, and love to read as they please.  So that’s what German Literature Month VI is about. Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, classic or contemporary, written by male or female, the choice is yours. As long as the original work was written in German, read as you please, and enjoy yourselves!
That said, there are a couple of scheduled activities for those who like to take part in group readings.
1)  Lizzy will be hosting a Krimi week during week two, concentrating mainly on Austrian and Swiss crime fiction. (If anyone is looking for a cracking read to discuss that week, she recommends Ursula P Archer’s Five.)
2) I have scheduled a Literature and War readalong for Friday 25 November. The book for discussion is Walter Kempowski’s All For Nothing.
We are very much looking forward to this, and hope you will join us. Don’t forget to tell us your plans. There’s often as much fun in the planning as there is in the reading!
If you need ideas – go to the German Literature Page on this blog or to the GLM blog.

Final Giveaways and Looking Back on German Literature Month 2015

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It feels as if I only just posted the intro to German Literature Month 2015. It’s hard to believe the month is already over.

And what a month it was. So many great posts. We have a total of 157 contributions. I’m not really into statistics, so I can’t tell you whether that’s more or less than last year – be it as it may, it’s a lot.

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm.

I haven’t read as much as I wanted, nor have I been able to visit everyone, but I’m still doing my rounds.

As a thank you to all of you, I’m giving away two books from Pushkin Press.

A Chess Story

Stefan Zweig’s A Chess Story

Chess world champion Mirko Czentovic is travelling on an ocean liner to Buenos Aires. Dull-witted in all but chess, he entertains himself on board by allowing others to challenge him in the game, before beating each of them and taking their money. But there is another passenger with a passion for chess: Dr B, previously driven to insanity during Nazi imprisonment by the chess games in his imagination. But in agreeing to take on Czentovic, what price will Dr B ultimately pay?

A moving portrait of one man’s madness, A Chess Story is a searing examination of the power of the mind and the evil it can do.

The Sorrows of Young W.

Ulrich Plenzdorf’s The Sorrows of Young W. A retelling of Goethe’s famous novel, set in GDR. It’s often called a GDR Catcher in the Rye.

‘I was just a regular idiot, a nutcase, a show-off and all that. Nothing to cry about. Seriously’

Edgar W., teenage dropout, unrequited lover, unrecognized genius – and dead – tells the story of his brief, spectacular life.

It is the story of how he rebels against the petty rules of communist East Germany to live in an abandoned summer house, with just a tape recorder and a battered copy of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther for company. Of his passionate love for the dark-eyed, unattainable kindergarten teacher Charlie. And of how, in a series of calamitous events (involving electricity and a spray paint machine), he meets his untimely end.

Absurd, funny and touching, this cult German bestseller, now in a new translation, is both a satire on life in the GDR and a hymn to youthful freedom.

Ulrich Plenzdorf was born in Berlin in 1934, and studied Philosophy and Film in Leipzig. In the early 1970s, he achieved fame with the much acclaimed The New Sorrows of Young W., considered a modern classic of German literature and taught in classrooms across Germany. From 2004 onwards, Plenzdorf was a guest lecturer at the German Institute of Literature in Leipzig. An award-winning and much celebrated author and dramatist, he died in 2007.

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All you have to do is tell me which book you’d like to win and why. The giveaways are open internationally. I’ll announce the winners on Monday 7 December 17:00 – Western European time.

This Giveaway is now closed!

German Literature Month – Winner Announcement

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Some of you will remember that we announced two special giveaways at the beginning of German Literature Month.

Two people will win two sets of books. One will be the winner of the “Pick and Mix Category” and the other will be the winner of “Best Post”.

While I will let Lizzy announce the winner of the “Pick and Mix Category”, I’m announcing the winner of the “Best Post”.

It wasn’t easy to find a winner because there were so many outstanding posts, but we both named the same without much thinking.

And here goes:

Winner of the category “Best Post” is Thomas (Mytwostotinki) for his post on Ostende. 1936, Summer of Friendship.

The Hottest DishesJust Call Me Superhero

Congratulations, Thomas, you have won two books by Alina Bronsky, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine and Just Call Me Superhero. Thanks to Europa Editions for their generosity.

Looking Back on German Literature Month IV 2014

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Every year Lizzy and I think that German Literature Month can’t get any better and every year we are wrong. It keeps on getting better and better. More people take part – 43 this year – more blog post are being written – 174 (!) -, and the quality of the posts is surprising too. I’m so pleased and want to thank you all for participating and showing so much enthusiasm.

I tried to read all the posts, but I still have some catching up to do before next Sunday. Next Sunday Lizzy and I are giving away two books. One for the winner of the “pick and mix”- category and one for our “favourite post”. It’s not easy because there have been so many great posts.

I’m sorry if I haven’t been able to comment on some blogs, but unfortunately there are always a few with a commenting system I can’t use.

My personal month went great as well. I’ve read some outstanding books, discovered a new favourite crime writer, and managed to read most of the books on my list.

Thanks once more to everyone. And a very special thank you to my wonderful co-host Lizzy.

Wednesday is Wunderbar – German Literature Month – Giveaways

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Thanks to the generosity of different publishers, Lizzy and I are able to give away a number of wonderful books.

I’m particularly pleased to give away a copy of the e-book of Anna Katharina Hahn’s novel Shorter Days. I’ve often thought that it was sad that her novel hadn’t been translated because I loved it so much. I’ve read it when it came out in Germany, in 2009, at a time when I read far more German than English books. Since then it’s among my top 5 German books of the last decade. I was really happy when I saw that Frisch & Co, an e-book publisher, was going to publish the novel in October.

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Here’s the publisher’s blurb

It’s fall in Stuttgart, just before Halloween, and thirty-something mothers Judith and Leonie are safely ensconced in their upscale apartments in one of the city’s best neighborhoods. Judith has squeezed her life into the straitjackets of stay-at-home Waldorf motherhood—no TV, no sweets, nature hikes, and, above all, routine—and marriage to staid university professor Klaus. Leonie is proud of her work at a bank and her husband Simon’s career, though she worries that she’s neglecting her young daughters, and that Simon’s work distracts him from his family. Over the course of a few days, Judith and Leonie’s apparently stable, successful lives are thrown into turmoil by the secrets they keep, the pressures they’ve been keeping at bay, and the waves of change lapping at the peaceful shores of their existence.

Shorter Days is a heartrending exploration of the joys, challenges, and dangers of modern family life.

The second book I am giving away is a nonfiction book, published by Pushkin Press, Maxim Leo’s Red Love: The Story of an East German Family. I haven’t read it but it sounds very interesting.

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Here’s the blurb

Growing up in East Berlin, Maxim Leo knew not to ask questions. All he knew was that his rebellious parents, Wolf and Anne, with their dyed hair, leather jackets and insistence he call them by their first names, were a bit embarrassing. That there were some places you couldn’t play; certain things you didn’t say.

Now, married with two children and the Wall a distant memory, Maxim decides to find the answers to the questions he couldn’t ask. Why did his parents, once passionately in love, grow apart? Why did his father become so angry, and his mother quit her career in journalism? And why did his grandfather Gerhard, the Socialist war hero, turn into a stranger?

The story he unearths is, like his country’s past, one of hopes, lies, cruelties, betrayals but also love. In Red Love he captures, with warmth and unflinching honesty, why so many dreamed the GDR would be a new world and why, in the end, it fell apart.

“Tender, acute and utterly absorbing. In fine portraits of his family members Leo takes us through three generations of his family, showing how they adopt, reject and survive the fierce, uplifting and ultimately catastrophic ideologies of 20th-century Europe. We are taken on an intimate journey from the exhilaration and extreme courage of the French Resistance to the uncomfortable moral accommodations of passive resistance in the GDR.

“He describes these ‘ordinary lies’ and contradictions, and the way human beings have to negotiate their way through them, with great clarity, humour and truthfulness, for which the jury of the European Book Prize is delighted to honour Red Love. His personal memoir serves as an unofficial history of a country that no longer exists… He is a wry and unheroic witness to the distorting impact – sometimes frightening, sometimes merely absurd – that ideology has upon the daily life of the individual: citizens only allowed to dance in couples, journalists unable to mention car tyres or washing machines for reasons of state.” Julian Barnes, European Book Prize

With wonderful insight Leo shows how the human need to believe and to belong to a cause greater than ourselves can inspire a person to acts of heroism, but can then ossify into loyalty to a cause that long ago betrayed its people.” Anna Funder, author of Stasiland

 

I’d like to thank Frisch & Co. and Pushkin Press for their generosity.

If you’d like to enter the giveaway, leave a comment, indicating for which book you’d like to enter. You can enter for both, of course.

Don’t miss visiting Lizzy’s site as she’s giving away titles from other publishers.

The giveaway is open internationally. The winners will be announced on Sunday, 5th October 2014. 

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED: THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED.