German Women Writers – A Few More Suggestions


German Literature Month is upcoming and since we’d like to promote women writers I thought, I give you some more suggestions. Two years ago I wrote this post containing mostly classics. Below you find a list with newer or lesser-known authors and books who are all interesting. None of these have been reviewed in one of the past GLM. There would be so many more if only they were translated.

Mrs Sartoris

Elke Schmitter – Germany

Mrs Sartoris

An explosive first novel – Madame Bovary in modern Germany – about a wife and mother whose failed love affairs have driven her to the edge of sanity and to a startling attempt at vindication. After being jilted by a rich boyfriend, Margaret, eighteen and heartbroken, throws herself into a comfortable but stifling marriage to Ernst, a war veteran with a penchant for routine and order, who still lives with his mother in a small German village.

It’s not a bad life, considering Margaret’s psychological scars, but neither Ernst’s adoration nor the birth of a daughter can reawaken her frozen emotions. Until she slides into an affair with a married man with whom she plans to run away. Her plan is a fantasy that cannot possibly come true. Its repercussions nevertheless will explode with unimaginable force in these astonished lives.


Karen Duve – Germany


“It will get better when it stops raining,” said Leon. When Leon Ulbricht lands a contract to write a gangster’s memoirs and moves into his dream home in an East German village with his beautiful wife Martina, everything seems set for an idyllic existence. But the dream home turns out to be in the middle of a fetid swamp; his house and marriage are falling apart; he can’t write the book and has spent all of his advance. It rains without end and their attempts to repair the house, or at least dry it out, are hampered by the plague of slugs eating away at the foundations. And then the gangster, wondering why his memoirs are not yet completed, decides to get nasty.

The Pollen Room

Zoe Jenny – Switzerland

The Pollen Room

Carlin Romano “The Philadelphia Inquirer”A European “Catcher in the Rye” or “Less than Zero” — a “spokenovel” for its generation….Abounds in gleaming sentences, in burnished image after image…[Jenny] is a beautifully disciplined writer.

House of Childhood

Anna Mitgutsch – Austria

House of Childhood

Max Berman, a successful but rootless New York restoration architect, socialite, and ladies’ man, remembers his childhood home in the small Austrian town of “H,” mostly through his mother‚’s cherished photographs and vivid stories. When she dies, still longing for the house she fled with her husband and young children in 1928, Max temporarily abandons his playboy lifestyle and travels to H, determined to reclaim the confiscated house.

In H, Max encounters Nadja, a young woman convinced that her late mother was Jewish and that the local synagogue will provide the sense of community she lacks. Recognizing that she is too talented for her provincial neighbors, he arranges for her to attend college in the U.S., where she becomes the most significant of his many lovers. He also befriends Arthur Spitzer, a Holocaust survivor and the leader of H’s dwindling Jewish community, who helps him regain legal control of his mother’s house. When, years later, the last of his tenants finally moves out, Max returns to investigate his family’s ties in H for a fateful year that challenges his restlessness and seems to offer the chance for real belonging.

Acclaimed Austrian writer Anna Mitgutsch’s novel is a powerful examination of the meaning of home—in a place, a community, a relationship—and the difficulty of finding one in our tumultuous world.


Viola Roggenkamp – Germany

The Spectale Salesman’s Family

Paul Schiefer is a travelling spectacles salesman. Every Monday morning he leaves Hamburg on a week-long sales trip. His wife, his mother-in-law and his two teenage daughters Fania and Vera see him off with abundant hugs and kisses, and they welcome him back with equal exuberance on Friday evening – just in time for Sabbath eve. While her husband is away, Alma Schiefer defends the wellbeing of her family with an explosive mixture of ferocious love and extreme determination. Thirteen-year-old Fania is torn between the comfort of home and the fearful thrills of the unknown outside world, a sixties world that contains student protest, beehive hairdos, Israel and the Six Day War, politics, religion, revolution and . . . the promise of love. Sensual, funny and acerbic, The Spectacle Salesman’s Family is a brilliant, vivid portrait of Jewish life in post-Holocaust Germany that continues the Jewish tradition of memorialising, recounting the details in order to hold onto the past and its lessons.


Trobadora Beatrice

Irmtraud Morgner – Germany

The Lives and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice Chronicled by Her Minstrel Laura

Set in the German Democratic Republic of the early 1970s, The Life and Adventures of Trobadora Beatrice-a landmark novel now translated into English for the first time-is a highly entertaining adventure story as well as a feminist critique of GDR socialism, science, history, and aesthetic theory. In May 1968, after an eight-hundred-year sleep, Beatrice awakens in her Provence château. Looking for work, she makes her way to Paris in the aftermath of the student uprisings, then to the GDR (recommended to her as the “promised land for women”), where she meets Laura Salman, socialist trolley driver, writer, and single mother, who becomes her minstrel and alter ego. Their exploits-Beatrice on a quest to find the unicorn, Laura on maternity leave in Berlin-often require black-magic interventions by the Beautiful Melusine, who is half dragon and half woman. Creating a montage of genres and text types, including documentary material, poems, fairy tales, interviews, letters, newspaper reports, theoretical texts, excerpts from earlier books of her own, pieces by other writers, and parodies of typical GDR genres, Irmtraud Morgner attempts to write women into history and retell our great myths from a feminist perspective. Irmtraud Morgner (1933-90) was one of the most innovative and witty feminist writers to emerge from the GDR. Jeanette Clausen is an associate professor of German at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. She is a coeditor of German Feminism: Readings in Politics and Literature and is a past editor of Women in German Yearbook.

Pavel's Letters

Monika Maron – Germany

Pavel’s Letters

Teasing her family’s past out of the fog of oblivion and lies, one of Germany’s greatest writers asks about the secrets families keep, about the fortitude of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and about what becomes of the individual mind when the powers that be turn against it.

Born in a working-class suburb of wartime Berlin, Monika Maron grew up a daughter of the East German nomenklatura, despairing of the system her mother, Hella, helped create. Haunted by the ghosts of her Baptist grandparents, she questions her mother, whose selective memory throws up obstacles to Maron’s understanding of her grandparents’ horrifying denouement in Polish exile.

Maron reconstructs their lives from fragments of memory and a forgotten box of letters. In telling her family’s powerful and heroic story, she has written a memoir that has the force of a great novel and also stands both as an elaborate metaphor for the shame of the twentieth century and a life-affirming monument to her ancestors.

Do you have a favourite author writing in German?

German Literature Recommendations II – 89 Novella and Short Story Writers You Should Read

First of all, welcome to German Literature Month. I’m sure it will be an exciting journey for all of us. If you participate, please leave comments so that we can visit your blogs and add your posts to a final list. We will most probably not do as many wrap up posts this year but the occasional update will surely appear on the one or the other blog.

Last year I published a post called German Literature Recommendations – 20 German Novels You Should Read. It was based on Marcel Reich-Ranicki’s famous “Der Kanon der deutschen Literatur”. There were many questions about missing authors in the comment sections. Many famous and outstanding writers were not on that list which made it look like an omission but in many cases they were not on that list because Reich-Ranicki considered them better at writing novellas and short stories.

In order to fill the gap left by last year’s post, I have decided to post his list on novellas and short stories. I indicate the authors (over 80 names) and some of their best stories with their German titles. For those who are famous it’s easy to find the English equivalent as it will be in collections, for others it’s more difficult. If you have a particular interest in an author or a story but difficulties to find it in English – or French… Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail. If it’s available, I’m sure I can find it for you.

The first week of this year’s German Literature Month is dedicated to novellas and short stories, if you still don’t know what to read, I’m sure you will find suggestions on the list.

I’ve already read two, one of them is on the list below, it’s Schnitzler’s Leutnant Gustl, which is available under the same title in English.

For more details on the different weeks, please visit the German Literature Month Announcement.

  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Die Sängerin Antonelli; Die wunderlichen Nachbarskinder; Der Mann von funfzig Jahren
  • Friedrich Schiller: Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre
  • Johann Peter Hebel: Der kluge Richter; Eine merkwürdige Abbitte; Kannitverstan; Drei Wünsche; Moses Mendelssohn; Ein teurer Kopf und ein wohlfeiler; Unverhofftes Wiedersehen; Drei Worte; Glimpf geht über Schimpf
  • Jean Paul: Des Feldpredigers Schmelzle Reise nach Flätz
  • Ludwig Tieck: Des Lebens Überfluss
  • E. T. A. Hoffmann: Ritter Gluck; Der Sandmann; Das Fräulein von Scuderi
  • Heinrich von Kleist: Das Erdbeben in Chili; Die Marquise von O…; Michael Kohlhaas; Die Verlobung in St. Domingo; Der Zweikampf; Anekdote aus dem letzten preußischen Krieg
  • Clemens Brentano: Die Schachtel mit der Friedenspuppe; Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und dem schönen Annerl
  • Adelbert von Chamisso: Peter Schlemihl’s wundersame Geschichte
  • Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm: Hänsel und Gretel; Aschenputtel; Rotkäppchen; Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten; Der Gevatter Tod; Dornröschen; Schneewittchen; Rumpelstilzchen
  • Joseph von Eichendorff:
    Das Marmorbild; Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts; Das Schloss Dürande
  • Franz Grillparzer: Der arme Spielmann
  • Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Die Judenbuche
  • Jeremias Gotthelf: Die schwarze Spinne
  • Heinrich Heine: Aus den Memoiren des Herren von Schnabelewopski; Florentinische Nächte; Der Rabbi von Bacherach
  • Wilhelm Hauff: Die Geschichte von Kalif Storch; Der Zwerg Nase
  • Eduard Mörike: Das Stuttgarter Hutzelmännlein; Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag
  • Adalbert Stifter: Turmalin
  • Georg Büchner: Lenz
  • Theodor Storm:
    Immensee; Die Söhne des Senators; Hans und Heinz Kirch; Der Schimmelreiter
  • Gottfried Keller: Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe; Die drei gerechten Kammacher; Kleider machen Leute; Der Landvogt von Greifensee
  • Theodor Fontane: Schach von Wuthenow; Stine
  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: Der Schuss von der Kanzel; Gustav Adolfs Page
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: Krambambuli
  • Ferdinand von Saar: Schloss Kostenitz
  • Eduard von Keyserling: Die Soldaten-Kersta
  • Arthur Schnitzler: Sterben; Der Ehrentag; Leutnant Gustl; Der Tod des Junggesellen;Fräulein Else; Spiel im Morgengrauen
  • Gerhart Hauptmann: Bahnwärter Thiel
  • Frank Wedekind: Die Schutzimpfung
  • Heinrich Mann: Gretchen
  • Jakob Wassermann: Der Stationschef
  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Das Märchen der 672. Nacht
  • Thomas Mann: Der kleine Herr Friedemann; Tristan; Tonio Kröger; Schwere Stunde;Wälsungenblut; Der Tod in Venedig; Unordnung und frühes Leid; Mario und der Zauberer
  • Rainer Maria Rilke: Die Turnstunde
  • Hermann Hesse: Knulp; Klein und Wagner
  • Martin Buber: Abraham und Lot
  • Robert Walser: Sebastian; Ein unartiger Brief
  • Alfred Döblin: Die Ermordung einer Butterblume
  • Robert Musil: Das verzauberte Haus; Tonka
  • Stefan Zweig: Die Weltminute von Waterloo; Schachnovelle
  • Ernst Weiß: Franta Zlin; Die Herznaht
  • Franz Kafka: Das Urteil; Die Verwandlung; Vor dem Gesetz; Ein Bericht für eine Akademie; Ein Landarzt; In der Strafkolonie; Ein Hungerkünstler
  • Lion Feuchtwanger: Höhenflugrekord
  • Egon Erwin Kisch:
    Wie ich erfuhr, daß Redl ein Spion war; Die Himmelfahrt der Galgentoni
  • Ernst Bloch: Fall ins Jetzt
  • Gustav Sack: Im Heu
  • Gottfried Benn: Gehirne
  • Georg Heym: Jonathan
  • Kurt Tucholsky: Rheinsberg
  • Franz Werfel: Der Tod des Kleinbürgers
  • Joseph Roth: April; Stationschef Fallmerayer; Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker
  • Heimito von Doderer: Acht Wutanfälle
  • Carl Zuckmayer: Geschichte von einer Geburt
  • Bertolt Brecht: Der Augsburger Kreidekreis; Der verwundete Sokrates;
    Die unwürdige Greisin
  • Elisabeth Langgässer: Saisonbeginn
  • Anna Seghers: Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen; Post ins Gelobte Land;
    Bauern von Hruschowo
  • Hans Erich Nossack: Der Untergang
  • Marie Luise Kaschnitz: Der Strohhalm; Lange Schatten; April
  • Marieluise Fleißer: Avantgarde
  • Elias Canetti: Die Verleumdung; Die Lust des Esels
  • Wolfgang Koeppen: Schön gekämmte, frisierte Gedanken;
    Ein Kaffeehaus; Jugend
  • Max Frisch:
    Der andorranische Jude; Skizze eines Unglücks; Glück
  • Arno Schmidt: Seelandschaft mit Pocahontas; Die Umsiedler
  • Peter Weiss: Der Schatten des Körpers des Kutschers
  • Wolfgang Hildesheimer: Ich schreibe kein Buch über Kafka;
    Das Ende einer Welt
  • Heinrich Böll: Der Mann mit den Messern; Wiedersehen in der Allee; Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa …; Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen
  • Wolfdietrich Schnurre: Das Manöver
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Die Panne
  • Wolfgang Borchert: Das Brot
  • Ilse Aichinger: Spiegelgeschichte
  • Franz Fühmann: Das Judenauto; König Ödipus
  • Siegfried Lenz: Der Verzicht; Ein Kriegsende; Ein geretteter Abend
  • Martin Walser: Ein fliehendes Pferd; Selbstporträt als Kriminalroman
  • Günter Grass: Katz und Maus
  • Günter Kunert: Alltägliche Geschichte einer Berliner Straße; Die Waage
  • Christa Wolf: Kein Ort. Nirgends
  • Thomas Bernhard: Die Mütze; Wittgensteins Neffe
  • Gabriele Wohmann: Wiedersehen in Venedig; Sonntag bei den Kreisands
  • Adolf Muschg: Der Ring; Der Zusenn oder das Heimat
  • Uwe Johnson: Jonas zum Beispiel
  • Ulrich Plenzdorf: kein runter kein fern
  • Peter Bichsel: Die Männer; Sein Abend; Der Mann mit dem Gedächtnis
  • Hans Joachim Schädlich:
    Besuch des Kaisers von Russland bei dem Kaiser von Deutschland
  • Jurek Becker: Die beliebteste Familiengeschichte
  • Hermann Burger: Der Orchesterdiener
  • Peter Handke:
    Das Umfallen der Kegel von einer bäuerlichen Kegelbahn
  • Christoph Hein: Der neuere (glücklichere) Kohlhaas
  • Botho Strauß: Die Widmung
  • Christoph Ransmayr: Przemysl

German Literature Recommendations – 20 German Novels You Must Read

I’m planning on writing a few posts with recommendations  for Lizzy and my upcoming German Literature Month in November. While I will give my personal recommendations in another post, I chose to follow one of the most famous German critics for the classics and modern classics.

The notorious German critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki (also called Literaturpapst aka Pope of Literature), who, for decades, made writers – praise from him would invariably lead to sales, a negative comment could ruin a career – edited a few years ago the so-called Canon of German Literature. While I don’t always agree with the foreign books he chooses to praise, I trust his judgement on German literature. Especially classics. His “Kanon der deutschen Literatur” has five parts. The first consists of 20 novels, the others are dedicated to short stories, poems, plays and essays.

As I suppose most people who will join us in November will go for novels, I chose to present Reich-Ranicki’s list of novels. There are a few I haven’t read but I got all of them and have at least read the initial pages. I think it’s a good choice and it is great that you can find German, Austrian and Swiss authors on it. I indicated whether or not the book is available in English or out of print (OOP).

  1. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: The Sorrows of Young Werther aka Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774) Germany
  2. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Elective Affinities aka Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809) Germany
  3. E. T. A. Hoffmann: The Devil’s Elixirs aka Die Elixiere des Teufels (1815/16) Germany
  4. Gottfried Keller: Green Henry aka  Der grüne Heinrich (1854/55) Switzerland
  5. Theodor Fontane: Frau Jenny Treibel (1892) Germany. Seems not available in English.
  6. Theodor Fontane: Effi Briest (1894/95) Germany
  7. Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks (1901) Germany
  8. Heinrich Mann: The Blue Angel aka Professor Unrat (1905) Germany, OOP
  9. Hermann Hesse: The Prodigy aka Unterm Rad (1906) Germany
  10. Robert Musil: The Confusions of Young Törless aka Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törless (1906) Austria
  11. Franz Kafka: The Trial aka Der Prozess (1914/15) Germany – Prague
  12. Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain aka Der Zauberberg (1924) Germany
  13. Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) Germany
  14. Joseph Roth: The Radetzky March aka Radetzkymarsch (1932) Austria
  15. Anna Seghers: The Seventh Cross aka Das siebte Kreuz (1942) Germany
  16. Heimito von Doderer: The Strudlhof Steps (The link included the translation of the first 79 pages)  aka Die Strudlhofstiege (1951) Austria. Seems not available.
  17. Wolfgang Koeppen: Pigeons on the Grass aka Tauben im Gras (1951) Germany
  18. Günter Grass: The Tin Drum aka Die Blechtrommel (1959) Germany
  19. Max Frisch: Montauk (1975) Switzerland. OOP
  20. Thomas Bernhard: Woodcutters aka Holzfällen (1984) Austria

Obviously there are authors and novels missing that I and others consider to be great, maybe in some cases greater than those included but you have to start somewhere. I think that Swiss author Robert Walser should have been mentioned. Many of my favourite authors have mostly written novellas and short stories and are therefore not included in this list. Some of them are Eduard von Keyserling, Theodor Storm, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Heinrich von Kleist, The Brothers Grimm and Arthur Schnitzler.

Be it as it may, the above mentioned list is a great starting point. The books vary a lot in style, length and themes.

My favourites are Effi Briest, The Elective AffinitiesThe Radetzky March and The Confusions of Young Törless. When it comes to Thomas Mann I liked everything but the book that impressed me the most was his Doctor Faustus, his most ambitious novel. Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull aka The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man is the most entertaining. I read a lot of Hesse. Personally I think Narziss und Goldmund aka Narcissus and Goldmund to be his best.

Did you read any of them? Which ones did you like?