“Christine Wunnicke’s glittering, absurdist jewel of a novel,” The Fox and Dr. Shimamura, is “itself a translation from the German.” And a prizewinning one at that! Philip Boehm is the 2020 recipient of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize.  (Music & Literature, 3/28/19; The New York Times, 5/31/19)

“The zoos were microcosms of postwar Germany, subsumed, like everything else during the Cold War, into the ideological struggle.” The Zookeepers’ War by J. W. Mohnhaupt, translated by Shelley Frisch, is the cultural history of Cold War Berlin you didn’t know you were missing.   (Time, 11/12/19; Air Mail, 11/23/19)

Daniel Kehlmann’s new novel Tyll, translated by Ross Benjamin, reanimates “the old German chronicle of mobile mischief by placing its protagonist, Tyll Ulenspiegel, in a deeply imagined early-seventeenth-century world, a Europe ruined by the Thirty Years’ War.” (The New York Times, 2/3/20; The New Yorker, 2/10/20)

“In the nineteen-forties, the West Side of Los Angeles effectively became the capital of German literature in exile. It was as if the cafés of Berlin, Munich, and Vienna had disgorged their clientele onto Sunset Boulevard.”  (The New Yorker, 3/2/20)

Sinclair McKay has written a new history of the firebombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945.  (The Spectator, 2/1/20; The Economist, 2/6/20)

An “entirely unimportant young lady alone with her questions” becomes an interpreter at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in The German House by Annette Hess, translated into English by Elisabeth Lauffer.  (The Washington Post, 12/30/19; The Economist, 1/8/20)

Donna Rifkind shines an overdue spotlight on Salka Viertel, “a destroyer of walls, a builder of bridges, a welcome among strangers,” in a new biography, The Sun and Her Stars.  (Harper’s, 1/2020; Time,  1/2/20)

Donna Rifkind shines an overdue spotlight on Salka Viertel, “a destroyer of walls, a builder of bridges, a welcome among strangers,” in a new biography, The Sun and Her Stars.  (Harper’s, 1/2020; Time,  1/2/20)

How to build a multicultural and pluralistic Germany?  Max Czollek provocatively tells the country’s minorities to “de-integrate” themselves.  (The New York Times, 1/16/20)

Haven’t made it through Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities? Try Agathe, or the Forgotten Sister, in a new translation by Joel Agee. Its 36 chapters are “a novel within the novel,” zeroing in on the unusual love story between Ulrich and Agathe.  (The New York Times, 12/5/19; The Paris Review, 1/8/20)

“In a country where 20th-century history weighs heavily, Fontane offers a long gaze on the landscape.” Theodor Fontane was born 200 years ago, on December 30, 1819. (The Guardian, 12/20/19)

“Neither scientific study nor psychoanalytic text, ‘The Third Reich of Dreams’ is a collective diary, a witness account hauled out of a nation’s shadows and into forensic light.”  (The New Yorker, 11/7/19)

Anna Funder looks back on Stasiland, seventeen years after it was first published: “My great mistake was to imagine that the stories I was finding would be well received by Germans.”  (The Monthly, Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020)

“There’s a reason why Adorno’s defenders might gravitate toward depression, unpleasantness, or both: his world is a huge bummer. But so is ours.”  (The Baffler, 11/22/19)

“Monsters lurk in the Nietzschean deep. It cannot be a random mishap that so many unpleasant people have taken pleasure in his work.”   (The New Yorker, 10/7/19)

“I didn’t want to learn tourist or business German, I wanted to read poetry.” Author Margaret Drabble explains why it’s never too late to appreciate a new language.  (The Paris Review, 11/14/19)

Julia Franck, Heike Geissler, Maxim Leo, Norman Ohler, and Bernhard Schlink look back on the opening of the Berlin Wall and its aftermath. (The Observer, 11/3/19)

“Inadvertently or not, most of today’s far right speak in Heideggerian terms: lamenting the rootlessness of modern life and the ravishing of national character by the liberal world order; longing for a lost social harmony between land and people.”  (New Statesman, 9/11/19)

“He is a fine writer, who combines great insight with shocking ethical blindness.” The world of arts and letters is stunned by the Swedish Academy’s decision to award Peter Handke the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature.  (The Guardian, 10/10/19; The New Republic, 10/10/19;

Whether we needed them or not, there are two new Hitler biographies out in 2019.  (The Guardian, 9/27/19; The New York Times, 9/29/19)

In Thomas Mann’s War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters, Tobias Boes retraces Thomas Mann’s journey from nonpolitical man to anti-fascist public intellectual.  (The National Interest, 8/14/19; National Review, 12/5/19)

Every translation is also a reinterpretation. Here’s how German literary translators are dealing with the linguistic and political pitfalls in Huckleberry Finn, Gone with the Wind, the works of James Baldwin, and more.  (Deutsche Welle, 9/30/19)

Adorno was right—you can buy a t-shirt that says so. Peter E. Gordon  examines the Frankfurt School thinker’s legacy, fifty years after his death.  (The New York Review of Books, 8/5/19)