The candidates for the German Book Award 2022 have been announced and these are the hotties you need to have read this season … not necessarily in this order 🙂

Kim de l’Horizon, BLOODBOOK (Blutbuch), Dumont:

  • winner of the Jürgen Ponto Literature Prize to young authors 2022

The book’s unnamed protagonist, who feels neither male nor female, is prompted by their grandmother’s slide into dementia to investigate their family history. The more their grandmother forgets, the more the narrator tries to remember: what was it in their childhood that prompted them to feel so alienated from their body? Does it have something to do with the family’s hushed-up history of incest? Why is their grandmother struggling to differentiate between herself and her sister who died young? And what happened to their youngest great aunt who disappeared when she was young? Tracking down answers to these questions proves difficult because the family has a habit of keeping quiet about such matters. At the heart of it all is the question of self-determination: how to exist when your own body is never a given, but is instead constantly having to be negotiated?

Fatma Aydemir, JINNS (Dschinns), Hanser:

  • Dutch rights sold to Signatuur, Danish rights sold to Politikens Forlag in a pre-empt

Hüseyin has spent the past thirty years working in Germany, and now his biggest dream has finally come true: he’s bought his very own flat in Istanbul – but he promptly dies of a heart attack on the day he moves in. His family in Germany travel to Turkey for the funeral. Fatma Aydemir’s epic social novel tells the stories of six characters who could not be more different from each other, and yet all happen to be related – and of their insatiable desire to be understood.

Daniela Dröscher, LIES ABOUT MY MOTHER (Lügen über meine Mutter), Kiepenheuer & Witsch:

Lies About My Mother is two things at once: the story of a childhood in the 1980s, increasingly overshadowed by the father’s obsession that his wife’s excess weight is to blame for everything he can’t get: a promotion, social advancement, recognition in the small-town community. It is also an examination of these events from the perspective of today: What really happened back then? What was concealed, what was lied about? And what does all this tell us about the bigger picture: about society, which constantly affects us, whether we like it or not?

Jochen Schmidt, PHLOX, (Phlox), C.H.Beck:

It’s going to be the final visit to Schmogrow for Richard Sparka and his family. He travels to the comfortingly familiar childhood paradise with Karla and their two children, Karl and Ricarda. The Tatziets have now died and the house and its land have been sold off. Over decades they had built up this holiday idyll, a haven for those in search of the good life. Richard, although embroiled at times in disagreements with Klara over the finer points of child-rearing and often bedevilled by his children’s determined views, remains dead set on carrying on with his personal crusade against the ‘uglification’ of the world by creating a special memorial to ‘The Miracle of Schmogrow’. Once they arrive, he manages to unearth some sort of archive of the place’s history and revels in the spiritual and practical wisdom of the Tatziet family, researching further into the delight that is Schmogrow but, in doing so, discovers how much of the back to nature, self-sufficiency paradise with its passion for sustainability and opposition to wastefulness actually has a darker side…both funny and serious, historically aware and yet highly topical, lovingly detailed but with an eye to the big issues, Jochen Schmidt writes of the eternal search for the ‘good life’.

Yael Inokai, A SIMPLE INTERVENTION (Ein simpler Eingriff), Hanser:

  • rights sold to France (Editions Zoé)

Meret is a nurse. The clinic is her home, she wears her uniform with pride, and no one knows more than her about how people can suffer. Until one day a new kind of intervention is developed, aimed at releasing women from psychological distress. Its secondary effects can be painful, but then patients start to heal. Meret holds onto this thought, even as she slowly begins to have her doubts about it.

Theresia Enzensberger, AT SEE (Auf See), Hanser:

The world is coming to an end. But Yada is growing up on a floating island off the German coast, built as a refuge from society’s collapse. In this smart, gripping and visionary novel, Theresia Enzensberger examines the utopian promise of new communities and happiness when loss and destruction loom. Yada lives on a man-made island in the Baltic Sea. It is her father’s brainchild, a libertarian tech entrepreneur who had created a haven from the spiralling chaos in the outside world. Since it was first set up years ago, the island’s lustre has worn off. Algae and moss flourish on its once gleaming surfaces. Yada’s father fears that his daughter might share the fate of her mother, who suffered from a mysterious illness before her death. And one day, Yada makes a discovery that rocks the foundations of her world. In a slick, radically contemporary style, At Sea questions whether we want to live in a world defined by fear of the future.

Jan Faktor, SIMPLETON (Trottel), Kiepenheuer & Witsch:

The simpleton’s story begins in Prague, after the Soviet invasion. On the advice of an aunt, the young simpleton studies computer science, but he doesn’t last long. Instead, he has his first grotesque romantic experiences, gets bored in an office for statistics about lies, and finally delivers army bread rolls. After a memorable encounter with the “Teutonic horde,” which includes his future wife, he “emigrates” to East Berlin, immerses himself in the weird, political underground scene in Prenzlauer Berg, is surprised by the “ideologically morphinized” GDR and the events around the fall of the Berlin Wall, and finally discovers his passion for the band Rammstein. From the beginning, this retrospect is also shot through with darkness: the trace of the son who chooses suicide at the age of 33, and whose early death will make everything become unhinged.

Dagmar Leupold, OH THE ELEPHANTS! (Dagegen die Elefanten!), Jung & Jung:

Mr. Harald is the man in the dressing room. He belongs to the theater like the curtain, but no one comes for him, the spotlight is for others. He takes people’s coats, bags, whatever they entrust to him, to be carefree for a short time, and waits until the final applause, that is his mission. But one evening a coat is left behind, and in the coat a pistol is found. Mr. Harald carries it home, only: What does he want to do with it? He can hardly defend himself against everything that seems to be an imposition to him about the world and his fellow human beings. But perhaps he can draw their attention to someone who, like him, leads a shadowy existence: the woman who turns the pages of music for someone else and whom he worships from afar.

Carl-Christian Elze, FREUDENBERG (Freudenberg), Voland & Quist:

17-year-old Freudenberg is forced to speak to the world around him and feels alienated. He has longings, fantasies, dreams – but he lacks the words to make himself understood. So others make the decisions for him. During a family vacation on the Polish Baltic coast, he unexpectedly has the chance to leave his alienated life behind: On a deserted stretch of beach, he finds the body of a boy who has fallen from the cliff. Freudenberg swaps clothes, wallets and IDs, stages his own death and assumes a new identity. But his newfound freedom soon overwhelms him, and he returns to his parents‘ small town, where he has just been buried. A scaffolding of lies is supposed to enable him to return to his old life, but this scaffolding does not hold.