Some Ideas for German Literature Month 2016

glm2016November is just around the corner, which means that it’s time for everyone to dust off some of the books lurking on their shelves in preparation for German (-Language) Literature Month.  As is my wont, I’ll be using my blog to provide a full month’s worth of reviews from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond, hopefully pointing you all in the direction of some lesser-known gems in the process.  But what will I actually be reading?  Well, I haven’t completely decided yet (where’s the fun in that…), but I do have a few ideas as to what might be gracing a review post in the near future – let’s take a look 🙂

One of the most satisfying aspects of the event is the excuse it gives me to catch up with someimg_5513 old friends, and there are several great writers I’ll be reacquainting myself with this time around.  Christa Wolf is one of my GLM regulars, and this year I’m hoping to get to one of her most famous novels, Der geteilte Himmel (They Divided the Sky).  Thomas Bernhard has also been a constant on my list over the past few years, and as Wittgensteins Neffe (Wittgenstein’s Nephew) has been praised by many bloggers over the past few years, I’m keen to try it for myself.  A writer who’ll undoubtedly be on many GLM wishlists is W.G. Sebald, and this November I’ll be reading the last of his four major works of fiction, Schwindel. Gefühle. (Vertigo).  While it’s sad, in a way, to have worked my way through them all, I’m definitely looking forward to trying this one.

img_5514Another couple of writers whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years will be making an appearance this year in short form.  I’ve read all of Peter Stamm’s longer fiction for now, so it’s time to get to work on his short story collections, with Blitzeis (Black Ice) my choice for November.  While that’s one of his earlier works, another of my choices is rather more recent.  Judith Hermann is well-known for her shorter fiction, and Lettipark was released at the start of 2016 – meaning you may have to wait a while to try it in English 😉

Novels and short stories are all well and good, but I’m also hoping to branch out a little this img_5515time around.  I’ve read most of Jenny Erpenbeck’s fiction, but my choice for this November is a rather different work.  While browsing (both on German Wikipedia and on various online bookstores…), I came across Katzen haben sieben Leben (Cats Have Seven Lives) and Schmutzige Nacht (Dirty Night), a collection of two plays which will certainly make for a departure from my usual fare.  I’ll also be moving away from fiction with Anna Kim’s Invasionen des Privaten (Invasions of Privacy).  You may remember Kim from another ghost of GLM past, Anatomie einer Nacht (Anatomy of a Night), and where that novel occurred over one eventful night in Greenland, her earlier work was an extended essay on the country, focusing on the lingering effects of colonialism.

img_5516I’m sure that would be plenty for most people, but I have a few more plans up my sleeve, just in case.  For one thing, my guilty conscience keeps turning my gaze towards some of the neglected souls lining my shelves.  Hans Keilson’s Das Leben geht weiter (Life Goes On) has been included in the past three of these previews without ever actually making it into my hands, and Friedrich Christian Delius’ Deutscher Herbst (German Autumn) trilogy is celebrating its fifth anniversary in my possession.  Surely this year I’ll find time for at least one of them…

I wouldn’t hold my breath, though as I have plenty of great books waiting on my Kindle too.  Tom, the Amateur Reader of Wuthering Expectations fame, has sent out a call for companions on Goethe’s Italienische Reise (Italian Journey), and it’s a trip I’m very keen to take.  Having recently reread another G-Lit classic, Eduard Graf von Keyserling’s Wellen (Waves), I’m keen to try more of his work too, so I may have to find a few days somewhere.  And then there are the usual nineteenth-century suspects waiting to be rediscovered, such as the two Teds, Fontane and Storm.  Where will I find the time…

Let’s face it – plan are all well and good, but unless I give up on sleep, these schemes are unlikely to come to fruition.  If you want to know how my month will *really* pan out, I’m afraid you’ll just have to come back in November and see what made the cut.  See you then 🙂


19 thoughts on “Some Ideas for German Literature Month 2016

  1. I’m still deciding what to read for GLM; I have a few ideas and trying to create a shortlist—but I often change my mind at the last moment. 🙂 I may try to limit my choices to those I already have though.


  2. i didn’t have much success with last year’s German lit month – I chose Christa Wolf’s The Quest for Christa T which really wasnt my cup of tea. This year I’m hoping to do better …..maybe this is the time to get to Hans Fallada…


  3. Thank you for this post and for participating. 🙂 Some interesting choices as always. I love Stamm’s short fiction. I’m curious to see what you think of Lettipark. I’m in the middle.


    1. Caroline – Katy Derbyshire, for one, was very enthusiastic about ‘Lettipark’, so I’m curious to see how it reads. Not sure I’ll find time for the Stamm, though (if it were a novel, on the other hand…)..


        1. Caroline – Five stories in, and I can see this one being divisive. There’s plenty there in the tone and style, but a cynic would say that there’s very little content, just (short) scenes we have to interpret ourselves. Very much the people of ‘Sommerhaus, später’ a couple of decades on 😉


            1. Caroline – Most of the stories are about 10-12 pages long (although the first is much shorter). She does like to vary her length, going from fairly standard length stories (‘Sommerhaus, später’) to much longer ones (‘Nichts als Gespenster’), linked stories (‘Alice’), a novel (‘Aller Liebe Anfang’) and now shorter pieces…


    1. Tom – I’m half-way through the first journey (about to leave Rome for Naples), and I’ll be returning to it periodically between other books over the next couple of weeks. His passion for everything and anything is endearing, but I’m not sure I can take many more rock anecdotes…

      Good to hear about the Sebald – one of my definites for the month 🙂


  4. Not ambitious at all then?! Goodness me, how do you have time for all that? And it must have cost a fortune to find and ship all those books. I’m starting to regret the move back to the UK, as German books were much easier to send to France.


    1. Marina Sofia – I doubt I’ll get through all of these, but I should manage eight or nine at least. Re: the cost, you’d be surprised – it usually costs me much less to order these books via the Book Depository than it would to buy an Aussie book in a local bookshop…


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