Planning Ahead for German Literature Month

Still too busy with our house-guests to be able to do my customary end-of-month reading round-up, but on this last sun-dappled day of October, I’m looking ahead to November reading, but not forward to November weather.

November is German Literature Month – now in its fourth edition, jointly hosted by lovely bloggers Lizzy Siddal and Caroline from Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat. This time, instead of merely admiring from the sidelines, I will take part, although perhaps in a somewhat more relaxed and unconventional form.

I have a number of books in German or in translation on my shelves which I really must get around to reading, so that’s my top priority. However, I will also try to fit in with some of the challenges.

1) A work that is not a novel:

Edda Ziegler : Verboten Verfemt Vertrieben – a book about women writers who resisted the rise of National-Socialism in Germany. Some of them I’ve heard of (Anna Seghers, Veza Canetti, Else Lasker-Schüler), others are completely new to me.

2) Work by an award winner:

Bernhard Schlink: Liebesfluchten (translated as Flights of Love)

Winner of multiple awards and of course famous for his novel ‘The Reader’. What makes him even more interesting in my eyes is that he started out as a crime fiction writer.

Alois Hotschnig: Maybe This Time (translated by Tess Lewis)

Short story collection by this Austrian writer, winner of the Erich Fried Prize (small but prestigious Austrian literary prize).

3)  A work relating to GDR or the Fall of the Wall:

Hester Vaizey: Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall

This one doesn’t quite fulfill the criteria (i.e. it was not written in German, although the interviews were conducted in German), but it is so compelling.  The real life stories of eight East German citizens of the Unification Generation, caught up in the transition between Communism and Capitalism. How do they remember the GDR 25 years later?

4)  A work written by or about Joseph Roth:

Another bit of judicious cheating here, as it’s just two very short stories by Joseph Roth in the beautiful collection of ‘Vienna Tales’, translated by Deborah Holmes, edited by Helen Constantine. 

5) Read a recommendation from German Literature Month Editions 1-3

Friedrich Dürenmatt: Der Verdacht

Having reread The Judge and His Hangman recently, I want to reacquaint myself with this second post-modernist or existentialist crime novel featuring Inspector Bärlach.

I hope I’m not stretching myself too far, especially since I also have some other commitments. I have a few French books which I borrowed from the library and which I need to finish (around the theme of ‘male midlife crisis’). I’ll be reviewing and interviewing new authors for Crime Fiction Lover’s New Talent in November feature. Oh, and I may also have to do some ‘real’ work occasionally. (Or should that be ‘paid’ work, as this book malarkey feels much more real to me?)



16 thoughts on “Planning Ahead for German Literature Month”

  1. Wow!!! I am in awe of your commitment !!!! I have set my self one book for GERMAN translation month In Times Of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge which has been on my TBR for ages. Sounds interesting , a family saga set in the DDR.

    I read Der Verdacht many years ago, when I still could read in German, and loved it . My fave still is Das Versprechen tho.
    Good luck with the reading ….look forward to the reviews!

  2. Great choices, Marina, and best of luck with your challenges. I’m hoping to read another two or three from my shelves for German Lit Month.

    I loved Hotschnig’s Maybe This Time. Reading some of these stories feels a little like experiencing a lucid dream where everything shifts and you’re left trying to piece fragments of the narrative together. The tone is quite eerie, so they’re perfect for this time of year.

  3. Your comment about Schlink dredged up a memory from years ago – wasn’t he a judge? An excellent source of material for crime writing. I hope you enjoy your German month.

  4. Marina Sofia – It sounds as though you’ll have some really interesting write-ups for us. I’ll look forward to reading your reviews.

  5. Some interesting choices here, especially ‘Der Verdacht’, one I first met during my A-Level days! I may get through one or two (or ten) myself 😉

    1. I do like Durrenmatt, although he was also a set text at school (Besuch der Alten Dame and Die Physiker), which is usually enough to put me off an author for life…

  6. Ambitious list, I am particularly curious about your review of the book about women writers. I also read Dürenmatt at school and still like him (which is not the case with all books that were on the reading list at that time).

    1. I know exactly what you mean by school-imposed books. Maybe the teachers would get more results by banning certain books – that would make the students all the keener to read them!

  7. Reading everyone’s posts on their plans for German Lit Month only reiterates how little I’ve read in this genre. It’s wonderful to have my horizons expanded! I think I’ll read Dietrich Bonhoeffer for a work that is not a novel, and stick with Buddenbrooks for one that is, but I loved reading your possible choices.

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