German fiction in translation

Daughters by Lucy Fricke (transl. Sinéad Crowe): Friends forever 

Lucy Fricke’s Daughters is the second V&Q Books launch title I’ve reviewed in a week. Each is very different from the other, yet both are concerned with families and how they shape us. Whereas Sandra Hoffmann’s Paula was a moving piece of cathartic autofiction, Daughters is a road novel with a sharply comic edge which …

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Paula by Sandra Hoffmann (transl. Katy Derbyshire): The power of silence

Sandra Hoffmann’s Paula is one of the launch titles for V&Q Books who specialise in translated German fiction. In her translator’s note Katy Derbyshire explains that so impressed was she with Hoffmann’s book that, unable to find a British publisher for her translation, she decided to approach a German press with a view to setting …

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Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (transl. Ross Benjamin): Telling truth to power

I’ve read all of Daniel Kehlmann’s translated novels, each very different from the others but all witty and smart. His last book, You Should Have Left, was a short, gothic number, both chilling and riveting. In comparison Tyll is a lengthy, historical novel set against the backdrop of the Thirty Years War which raged across …

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The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes (transl. Jamie Bulloch): Marching to Fortress Europe

Timur Vermes is clearly not a man to shy away from controversy. His sharp, very funny satire, Look Who’s Back, nailed the internet’s potential for political manipulation with admirable, if unsettling, prescience when Hitler wakes up with a bad headache in 2011 and quickly becomes a YouTube star. The Hungry and the Fat takes on …

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The Club by Takis Würger (transl. Charlotte Collins): All too believable

I had my eye on this one as soon as I saw that it was translated by the excellent Charlotte Collins, although I think I would have read it anyway. Set against a backdrop of privilege and entitlement, Takis Würger’s The Club follows Hans, a young German orphan whose estranged aunt has spotted a way …

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The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (transl. Jen Calleja): To the north

This is the third novel I’ve read from this year’s Man Booker International Prize longlist. The other two are Hubert Mingarelli’s Four Soldiers, beautifully translated by Sam Taylor, which didn’t make it onto the shortlist, and Olga Tokarczuk’s quirky Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of The Dead, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, which did alongside …

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One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig (transl. Jamie Bulloch): A wolf takes a walk

Impossible not to comment on that title which makes the old bookseller in me wonder just how much it will be mangled in customer enquiries. I’m sure the publishers breathed a sigh of relief that Twitter have extended their 140-character limit, too. That said, it was the title which attracted me to this novella along …

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