Emerging German-Language Novelists of the Twenty-First Century

Emerging German-Language Novelists of the Twenty-First Century

Lyn Marven
Stuart Taberner
Volume: 105
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt1x72qf
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  • Book Info
    Emerging German-Language Novelists of the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    After the international success in the 1990s of authors such as Bernhard Schlink, Marcel Beyer, and Thomas Brussig, an impressive number of new German-language novelists are making a significant impact. Some, like Karen Duve, Daniel Kehlmann, and Sasa Stanisic, have achieved international recognition; some, like Julia Franck, have won major prizes; others, like Clemens Meyer, Alina Bronsky, and Ilja Trojanow, are truly "emerging authors" who have begun to attract attention. Between them they represent a range of literatures in German, from women's writing to minority writing (from Turkish immigrants and Eastern Europe), to "pop literature" and perspectives on the former GDR and on Germany's Nazi past. This volume devotes individual essays to fifteen such writers, examining in detail a major work of each. Translated excerpts from works by Vladimir Vertlib and Clemens Meyer round out the book, which will be of interest not only to academics and students of English and Comparative Literature in the UK, the US, and beyond, but also to the general reader, for whom titles of texts and quotations are translated. Contributors: Lyn Marven, Stuart Taberner, Anke S. Biendarra, Stephen Brockmann, Rebecca Braun, Frauke Matthes, Brigid Haines, Julian Preece, Emily Jeremiah, Valerie Heffernan, Barbara Mennel, Heike Bartel, Kate Roy, Andrew Plowman, Sonja E. Klocke, Jamie Lee Searle, Katy Derbyshire. Lyn Marven is a Lecturer in German at the University of Liverpool. Stuart Taberner is Professor of Contemporary German Literature, Culture, and Society at the University of Leeds.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-774-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: New German-Language Writing since the Turn of the Millennium
    (pp. 1-16)
    Lyn Marven

    Twenty years after German reunification, much German-language literary fiction, and particularly that written by a younger generation of authors, is distinctly globalized and transnational in outlook: from subject matter to setting, from the style and language of texts to their swift translation into other languages, a larger number of novels from the German-speaking countries than ever before participate in the worldwide circulation of literary fiction. With three German-language writers awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in just over a decade — Günter Grass in 1999, Elfriede Jelinek in 2004, and Herta Müller in 2009 — a variety of international bestsellers...

  5. 1: Ulrike Draesner, Mitgift: On Bodies and Beauty
    (pp. 17-31)
    Lyn Marven

    The naked figure on the paperback edition of Ulrike Draesner’s 2002 novel Mitgift (literally: Dowry) announces that this is a text dealing with gendered bodies, narratives and images of physicality, and ways of seeing.¹ Turning away from the camera toward an open door, and cropped at the shoulders and knees, the figure is illuminated from behind by a window and is, on second glance at least, relatively androgynous. Mitgift explores the embodiedness of individuals and their experience through the central relationship between Aloe, an art historian, and astrophysicist Lukas, who meet while studying at Oxford. The course of their relationship...

  6. 2: Vladimir Vertlib, Das besondere Gedächtnis der Rosa Masur: Performing Jewishness in the New Germany
    (pp. 32-45)
    Stuart Taberner

    In contemporary German-language culture, Jews appear with striking frequency in affective elaborations of persecution, flight, extermination, and recovery, against which German remorse in the present can be positively evaluated. In one version, this typically implies a return to a (mythical) German-Jewish symbiosis. Here, we might think of Martin Walser’s Die Verteidigung der Kindheit (In defense of childhood, 1991), in which the Jewish doctor Halbedel is abused by the Nazis but treated kindly by Alfred’s family. Within the narrative economy of the novel, Alfred and his parents are the “true” Germans, the Nazis an aberration.¹ Walser’s model for Halbedel, moreover, was...

  7. 3: Terézia Mora, Alle Tage: Transnational Traumas
    (pp. 46-61)
    Anke S. Biendarra

    Over the last two decades, interest in transnational writing has steadily increased.¹ A growing media coverage and the heightened interest of publishing houses have given authors of non-German or “hyphenated” origin a higher profile in the public sphere and the literary market place. Prestigious literary awards such as the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize — founded in 1985 — have promoted the reception of writers who publish in German although it is not their first language. In January 2010, Terézia Mora, whose highly acclaimed first novel Alle Tage (2004; Day In Day Out, 2007) is the focus of this chapter, won...

  8. 4: Juli Zeh, Spieltrieb: Contemporary Nihilism
    (pp. 62-74)
    Stephen Brockmann

    Since the publication of her first novel Adler und Engel (Eagles and angels) in 2001, Juli Zeh, born in 1974, has developed an impressive reputation in the German literary world as a writer and public intellectual. To date, Zeh has published three other novels: Spieltrieb (The drive to play, 2004), Schilf (2007; Dark Matter, 2010), and, most recently, Corpus Delicti (2009), based on a theatrical work by her that premiered in September of 2007.¹ In addition to her novels, Zeh has produced many essays; she frequently engages in political debate in German newspapers and magazines, and in 2005 she publicly...

  9. 5: Daniel Kehlmann, Die Vermessung der Welt: Measuring Celebrity through the Ages
    (pp. 75-88)
    Rebecca Braun

    When Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the world) appeared in 2005,¹ Daniel Kehlmann could hardly have been described as a new writer. He had already published three other novels, a novella, and a collection of essays, with the most recent previous novel, Ich und Kaminski (Kaminski and I, 2003), achieving a print run of thirty thousand copies in hardback alone.² However, where the author had spent the previous ten years slowly making a name for himself in publishing circles, now he suddenly became a household name even for those with only a passing interest in German literature. The novel spent...

  10. 6: Clemens Meyer, Als wir träumten: Fighting “Like a Man” in Leipzig’s East
    (pp. 89-104)
    Frauke Matthes

    When Clemens Meyer’s debut novel Als wir träumten (When we were dreaming) hit the German literary market in 2006, the then twenty-nine-year-old author was confronted with unexpected success; the numerous prizes,¹ unfamiliar media attention, and countless interviews must have come — one would think — as a welcome surprise. However, when his writing career took off, Clemens Meyer (b. 1977 in Halle/Saale) did not fit the image of the young writer who had worked continuously on his writing career until finally making it. On the contrary, in 2006 Meyer portrayed himself as a maverick who liked to show off his...

  11. 7: Saša Stanišić, Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert: Reinscribing Bosnia, or: Sad Things, Positively
    (pp. 105-118)
    Brigid Haines

    The Balkan region is subject to its own kind of Orientalism in the Western imagination. The birthplace of European civilization, it has nevertheless frequently been mythologized as Europe’s less civilized other.¹ The eruption of violence in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s did nothing to dispel this trend. Indeed, it has been argued that even such engaged recent commentators as Peter Handke, W. G. Sebald, Norbert Gstrein, and Juli Zeh struggle to move beyond the stereotypes of exotic yet tragic Balkan otherness.² In Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert (2006; How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone, 2008), however, the other...

  12. 8: Ilija Trojanow, Der Weltensammler: Separate Bodies, or: An Account of Intercultural Failure
    (pp. 119-132)
    Julian Preece

    Ilija Trojanow’s Der Weltensammler (The collector of worlds, 2006),¹ a novel in three long chapters about the Victorian explorer Richard F. Burton, was welcomed in the review sections of the highbrow German-language press. In fact, its author, already well known for his travel writing and journalism, soon came to be feted as a new literary star. Ilija Trojanow has good looks and well-developed communication skills and is ready to take sides in public debates. A further selling point is his fascinating and unique personal backstory, which is often summarized on book covers and in newspaper profiles. Born in Bulgaria in...

  13. 9: Sibylle Berg, Die Fahrt: Literature, Germanness, and Globalization
    (pp. 133-147)
    Emily Jeremiah

    The question of contemporary German national identity is uniquely vexed. The legacy of National Socialism, the ongoing effects of reunification, the challenges of multiculturalism and of globalization — all of these combine to create a fascinating case study: “Germanness” is a shifting construct that is fraught with difficulties. It is a matter that has been hotly and widely debated within Germany over the past decades.¹ The discursive construction and contestation of Germanness have logically formed the subject of numerous discussions in German literary and cultural studies, which examine, among other topics, memory and history, East and West Germanness, Turkish-German culture,...

  14. 10: Julia Franck, Die Mittagsfrau: Historia Matria and Matrilineal Narrative
    (pp. 148-161)
    Valerie Heffernan

    When Julia Franck was awarded the German Book Prize in 2007, she was by no means a newcomer to the literary scene. The author had already published three novels and two collections of short stories before her epic tome Die Mittagsfrau (literally, Lady Midday, the noonday witch, 2007; published in English as The Blind Side of the Heart, 2009) earned her Germany’s most prestigious literary award. In selecting Franck’s novel, the jury members were unanimous in their praise of its “vivid use of language, narrative power and psychological intensity,” calling it “a novel for long conversations.”¹ Franck’s powerful depiction of...

  15. 11: Alina Bronsky, Scherbenpark: Global Ghetto Girl
    (pp. 162-178)
    Barbara Mennel

    It has become a mainstay of globalization theory that local and global are not mutually exclusive categories. Global forces produce locally inflected culture, which does not exist outside of networks of transnational exchange. Within this dialectic of the nexus between global and local, literature has retained a privileged status. Literature’s dependence on language situates it as integral to national culture, especially in the case of Germany, which historically has defined itself as a Kulturnation (cultural nation). Yet national literature nonetheless responds to, incorporates, and partakes in global networks of production and circulation of culture. Thus, when Alina Bronsky’s Scherbenpark (2008;...

  16. 12: Karen Duve, Taxi: Of Alpha Males, Apes, Altenberg, and Driving in the City
    (pp. 179-194)
    Heike Bartel

    Taxi (2008), by the Hamburg-born author Karen Duve, tells the story of Alex, a young female taxi driver in Hamburg during the six years of her work for the taxi company Mergolan before the novel ends in a car crash. The simple plot might suggest that almost nothing happens in this text, which deals with the protagonist’s various encounters with passengers inside the taxi and with (mostly) men outside the taxi and features a surprise ending. However, Taxi is more than a drive-through: it is an accomplished literary portrayal of the individual in a postmodern cityscape. Drawing on cultural theories...

  17. 13: Yadé Kara, Cafe Cyprus: New Territory?
    (pp. 195-213)
    Kate Roy

    Winner of the German Book Prize 2004 for most successful debut novel for Selam Berlin (2003), which also earned her the 2004 Adelbert-von-Chamisso Förderpreis (promotional prize), Yadé Kara is a commercially successful Turkish-German writer. Kara, a “staunch West Berliner,”¹ who had a diverse career as a journalist, actress, teacher and manager in four metropolises before becoming a writer, was born in Çayırlı, eastern Anatolia, in 1965 and moved to Germany with her parents as a child. In her thoughtful and at times critical² Chamisso Prize acceptance speech, she compares her coming to Germany and her identity as a Berliner to...

  18. 14: Sven Regener, Der kleine Bruder: Reinventing Kreuzberg
    (pp. 214-227)
    Andrew Plowman

    The publication in 2008 of Sven Regener’s Der kleine Bruder (The younger brother) marked the completion of a trilogy of works devoted to the story of a figure named Frank Lehmann, which has ranked among the critical and commercial successes of recent German writing. The initially garrulous but passive Lehmann had first appeared in Herr Lehmann (Mr. Lehmann, 2001; published in English as Berlin Blues, 2003) as a bartender living and working in the alternative subculture of the Kreuzberg district of West Berlin on the eve of the fall of the Wall in 1989. This first novel crystallized central political...

  19. 15: Kathrin Schmidt, Du stirbst nicht: A Woman’s Quest for Agency
    (pp. 228-242)
    Sonja E. Klocke

    In the fall of 2009, Kathrin Schmidt found herself in the limelight when she was awarded the prestigious German Book Prize for her novel Du stirbst nicht (You are not going to die). This honor suggests that Schmidt, previously known only to a small audience, now emerges as an eminent writer who enjoys the potential to stand the test of time. The judges emphasize that “the novel tells a story of regaining the world. . . . [This] individual tale of a return from the brink of death is positioned both unobtrusively and with great skill in the echo chamber...

  20. Appendix A: Excerpt from Vladimir Vertlib, Das besondere Gedächtnis der Rosa Masur
    (pp. 245-254)
  21. Appendix B: Excerpt from Clemens Meyer, Als wir träumten
    (pp. 255-260)
  22. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 261-264)
  23. Index
    (pp. 265-274)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)