“A cult voice of East German feminist literature” is finally getting her due in English. Lucy Jones’s translation of Brigitte Reimann’s novel Die Geschwister (Sisters) will be published by Penguin in February, fifty years after the author’s premature death.  (The Guardian, 1/4/23)

Sibylle Berg’s Grime, newly translated by Tim Mohr, “is a novel so caustic it should be printed with hydrochloric acid.” Berg “sprays her fury across the whole landscape of technological and economic manias that are rendering the 21st century intolerable.”  (The Washington Post, 12/13/22)

The rules of gender in German-speaking Europe are bending, and Kim de l’Horizon is leading the way. They received the 2022 German Book Prize for Blutbuch, “a formally adventurous work centering on a nonbinary character, also named ‘Kim,’ grappling with gender identity while exploring the traumatic histories of women in their Swiss family.”  (The New York Times, 11/30/22)

Gudrun Pausewang’s 1987 novel Die Wolke (The Cloud), about a fictional nuclear accident, was standard reading for young West Germans. “To this day, critics argue over whether she empowered children—or traumatised them for life.”  (BBC, 11/3/22)

Onkel Toms Hütte is one of Berlin’s most distinctive U-Bahn stations, with a name that references Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, a long-gone Biergarten, and a modernist housing development designed by Bruno Taut. Once a flashpoint in the great “roof war” of 1928, it’s now the center of a 21st-century controversy about the anti-Black slur that “Uncle Tom” has become. NPR, (7/30/08; Atlas Obscura, 1/19/17; The Washington Post, 11/27/22)

In memoriam: Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1929–2022), “free-spirited intellectual who suggested a new literary direction for the country out of the rubble of World War II, writing poems, essays, novels and travelogues that were by turns witty and incisive, united by their vivid imagery and close attention to detail.”  (Deutsche Welle, 11/25/22; The Washington Post, 11/28/22; n+1, 11/29/22)

Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel The Oppermanns “reads like a five-alarm fire because it was written that way, over a mere nine months, and published shortly after Hitler became chancellor, only lightly fictionalizing events as they occurred in real time.”  It has just been rereleased with a revised translation by Joshua Cohen.  (The New York Times, 10/3/22; The New York Times, 10/6/22)

In the new novel Identitti author Mithu Sanyal and translator Alta Price “take readers on a wild ride in which every assumption about race, interpersonal relationships, and academic language is brought under scrutiny.” (Words without Borders, 9/1/22; The New York Times, 9/29/22; Los Angeles Review of Books, 10/24/22)

The Ravensburger Verlag withdrew two children’s books based on the work of Karl May, who created an utterly fanciful—but wildly successful—world of cowboys and Indians at the end of the 19th century; his 21st-century defenders aren’t conceding quietly. (The Guardian, 8/23/22; The Times, 9/12/22)

Karl Bartos recalls his innovative musical career in The Sound of the Machine: My Life in Kraftwerk and Beyond, translated into English by Katy Derbyshire.  (The Guardian, 8/3/22; Clash, 8/8/22)

“A cage went in search of a bird”: There’s much to contemplate and appreciate in a beautiful new edition of Kafka’s aphorisms, translated by Shelley Frisch and introduced and edited by Reiner Stach.  (Times Literary Supplement, 4/29/22; Forward, 7/7/22)

An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, translated by Jackie Smith, is “a fine example of everyone’s favourite genre: the genre-defying book, inspired by history, filtered through imagination and finished with a jeweller’s eye for detail.”  (The Guardian, 12/4/20;  The White Review, 1/2021)

With the reissue of Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man and Colm Tóibín’s biographical novel, Thomas Mann is having a moment. Before you pick up either one, read Alex Ross first!  (The New Yorker, 1/17/22)

In memoriam: Ali Mitgutsch (1935–2022), father of the Wimmelbuch. “He delighted readers with detailed, cartoonish tableaus crammed with jokes and anecdotes.” (The New York Times, 1/18/22)

Robert Habeck, “the man who will spend the next four years trying to bring about a green transformation of Germany’s coal-hungry industry once faced another daunting challenge in a previous, less publicly exposed career: translating the most controversial poems in recent British history into German.”  (The Guardian, 12/6/21)

“In modern Germany, Krimis are everywhere. More than 3,000 new crime novels are published every year, and the deluge of crime shows (both televised and theatrical), murder mystery dinners, and crime fiction festivals is near constant.”  (Foreign Policy, 10/24/21; New Books in German, 11/14/21)

“Greater Einland (population: 1,000) has no internet and no ATMs . . . Even more remarkably, it is being gradually sucked down into a vast subterranean hole of unknown provenance.” Raphaela Edelbauer’s debut novel, Liquid Land, combines a “dreamy, Gothic strangeness with whimsical humour and an element of farce”—and it’s translated into English by Jen Calleja.  (Lonesome Reader, 8/19/21; The Guardian, 9/10/21)

“Upon publication, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna was quickly embraced by critics and readers in the United States, Europe, and beyond.” Thomas Bender recalls the historian Carl Schorske and his remarkable work.  (Public Books, 9/21/21)

“From the first assured pages of Afterlives, a book of quiet beauty and tragedy, it is clear one is in the hands of a master storyteller.” Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah “leads us by the hand into the world of German-occupied east Africa, before Germany lost its territories after defeat in the first world war.”  (Financial Times, 10/22/20; The Economist, 10/7/21)

“Two opposite, potentially even hostile, societies unite—that’s one of the most exciting sociological experiments you could imagine.” Sociologist Steffen Mau discusses Rostock’s Lütten Klein district and the traumas of German reunification.  (Jacobin, 10/3/21)

Take it from translator Shelley Frisch: “One of the cruelest barbs one can level against a writer’s style in English is to accuse a text of sounding ‘translated from German.'”  (Princeton University Press, 9/30/21)

The Magician is Colm Tóibín’s own “Mann-sized” novel about the author of Buddenbrooks and Doctor Faustus.  (Times Literary Supplement, 9/10/21;  The Washington Post, 9/14/21; The Guardian, 9/17/21)

Thomas Mann’s Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man “is a strange, frequently off-putting book, a 500-page assault on democracy, enlightenment and reason . . . And yet, at the moment, the book feels not just worthy of our attention but somehow indispensable.”  (The New York Times, 9/17/21)

“Condemned to live in an idolatrous world with the outlook of Hegel’s ‘beautiful soul,’ they spent their lives finessing waspish denunciations for like-minded readers rather than striving to transform it.” Stuart Jeffries discusses Martin Jay’s new essay collection—and American conspiracy theorists—on the Frankfurt School.  (The New Statesman, 8/18/21)

“In a belated plot twist, the German chancellor is the heroine of a new novel detailing her post-chancellery career as a hobby detective. Get off the stage, Miss Marple, it’s time for Miss Merkel.”  (The Irish Times, 4/16/21)

Stefan Weber, plagiarism hunter: “Critics describe him as a persnickety crusader who takes pleasure in character assassination. Even his supporters acknowledge that his drive to hold writers, academics and others to the highest standards can be vexing.”  (The New York Times, 9/10/21)

“His unease about a disappearing world echoes our own, as does his denial about the onrushing future.” Thanks to translator Isabel Fargo Cole, you can now read Adalbert Stifter’s complete Motley Stones in English.  (The Economist, 6/26/21; The Nation, 9/13/21)

Göring’s Man in Paris is “the story of a Nazi art plunderer and his world”—and how historian Jonathan Petropoulos became part of that world more than fifty years later.  (The Art Newspaper, 1/7/21; The New York Times, 1/17/21)

“In the shouty Valhalla of pointlessly destructive literary feuds, a place of honor must go to the verbal duel between the poets Heinrich Heine and August von Platen, which amused and disgusted the German literary world in 1829.”  (The New Yorker, 2/5/21)

Wolfram Eilenberger’s Time of the Magicians, translated by Shaun Whiteside, takes us back to the tumultuous decade between 1919 and 1929, as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Cassirer, and Benjamin were thinking “intently, obsessively and sometimes dangerously about how to answer the oldest questions of philosophy.”  (The Guardian, 8/13/20;  The New York Times, 8/14/20; New Statesman, 12/10/20)

“Antisemitism for beginners”: the Jewish children’s book publisher Ariella Verlag has released a darkly humorous collection of cartoons.  (PRI, 2/3/21)

What better time to revisit Stefan Zweig’s 1942 memoir The World of Yesterday: “His plaintive ode to serendipitous meetings in free and open cities is one that echoes, too, from the shuttered windows of our own era’s locked-down metropolises.”  (New Statesman, 1/27/21)

In memoriam: Helga Weyhe (1922-2021), “Germany’s oldest bookseller.”  (The New York Times, 1/14/21)

It’s Hegel’s 250th birthday—here’s to reason in history and notoriously difficult German philosophers in the news.   (Deutsche Welle, 8/27/20; The Guardian, 8/27/20)

The Bohemians by Norman Ohler, translated by Tim Mohr and Marshall Yarbrough, is “a detailed and meticulously researched tale about a pair of young German resisters that reads like a thriller.”  (The New York Times, 7/14/20; The Spectator, 8/6/20)

A bestselling book about Angela Merkel’s response to the European refugee crisis (Die Getriebenen) has since inspired a popular TV movie. “Any attempt to understand the legacy of the summer of 2015 must reckon with both works—and the crucial differences between them.”  (Foreign Policy, 8/23/20)

Suzanne L. Marchand “uses porcelain as a vehicle to weave a sweeping economic, social and cultural history of central Europe. Along the way, she traces the transformation of the hundreds of German principalities into a powerful state that, by the late 19th century, was producing porcelain on an industrial scale.”  (The Economist, 7/16/20; The Wall Street Journal, 7/28/20)

“‘Michael Kohlhaas,’ which was recently reissued by New Directions in a sparkling new translation from Michael Hofmann, makes for a fine entry point into Kleist’s passionate, grotesque, hysterical, and deeply strange body of work.”  (The New Yorker, 5/20/20)

Reality TV meets the refugee crisis: “The first thing to say about Timur Vermes’s second novel, The Hungry and the Fat, is that Jamie Bulloch’s translation is immaculate . . . The second striking thing about this novel is how very good it is.”  (The Guardian, 2/8/20; Financial Times, 2/14/20)

“The Habsburgs are a writer’s gift, offering a regal cast of mad, colourful and deeply flawed characters.” In a new book, Martyn Rady charts the rise and fall of one of history’s most powerful families.  (Financial Times, 5/20/20; TLS, 6/26/20)

James Kirchick recalls The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum by Nobel prizewinner Heinrich Böll, and shows us how “a biting Cold War-era German novella helps explain our current moment.”  (The American Interest, 6/28/20)

“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)