Bittersweet tales by the author of the »Pollen Room«
These characters may appear fragile, but they demonstrate unexpected strength. The ground trembles beneath their feet, but they do not fall: they strike out in moments of danger, and escape their cages as soon as they feel the wind beneath their wings.
Ginza, for example, who asserts her independence by sharing a tiny flat with friends and working as a tourist guide in the vibrant, overwhelming megacity of Shangai. Or Sophie, a shy woman in her fifties, whose headstrong daughter Clarice brings her photographer boyfriend on a visit to the family’s summer cottage. It comes as a surprise when Sophie suddenly blossoms under the camera’s gaze, upsetting the family balance.
Mike, a young stepfather to two girls, is quietly fighting for recognition. His wife has very clear ideas about how her daughters should be raised: she only buys organic food, and throws out any clothes made of polyester. Mike secretly takes his stepdaughters to an ice cream parlour, in a battle for life’s sweetness that he can never hope to win. In another story, young Elena, watching a black condor crane his skinny, vulnerable neck, as he struggles to fly inside his cage, is reminded of her elopement.
Beneath each of Zoë Jenny’s soft sentences lie darkness and profundity, pervading them with a subtle melancholy. Fear of loss and the awareness of vulnerability resonate just below the surface, and we sense that the characters in her stories are deeply troubled - but their power should not be underestimated. Zoë Jenny captivates the reader with these haunting, bittersweet tales.
Zoë Jenny was born in Basel in 1974 and spent parts of her childhood in Greece and Ticino. Her first novel, »The Pollen Room« (FVA 1997), was a global bestseller and has been translated into 27 languages. Following this success, Zoë Jenny was invited to give readings and talks at schools and universities in Japan, China and the U.S. She has lived in New York, Berlin and London, and currently resides in Austria. She has published two more novels – »The Call of the Conch Shell« (FVA 2000) and »The Portrait« (FVA 2007). »Spätestens morgen« is her first short story collection.
»It’s not about trying to prove anything. It’s about finally following my inner voice. It’s about my life.«
A hot July day in 1890. Theo van Gogh is hurrying to Auvers, a small town outside Paris, in consternation. His brother Vincent has tried to kill himself, and is now languishing in a pitiable state in the attic of the Ravoux guesthouse. That night Vincent dies, leaving Theo in despair. All their efforts to establish Vincent on the Paris art market during his life-time have failed.
More than a century later, the body of a former German businessman is found in van Gogh’s death chamber. Ten years ago, Arthur Heller abandoned his career to go to Paris and become a writer, but never published a single book. An unsuccessful author who decided to end his life where van Gogh ended his? When Heller’s niece Sabine Bucher arrives in Auvers, she soon realizes that all is not quite as it seems. She becomes increasingly caught up in Heller’s fate, until finally she discovers the truth – about her uncle’s death, but also about herself.
J.R. Bechtle’s first novel takes the artist’s tragic life and connects it to the thrilling investigation of a crime. The story of Vincent van Gogh and the efforts of his brother and sister-in-law Johanna to secure his posthumous reputation are intertwined with that of the dropout Arthur Heller, who wrote about the thorny subject of German-Jewish relations while, in real life, coming into confrontation with Islam. The two stories interlock, each posing the same, eternal question: What is the right way to live?
J.R. Bechtle, born in 1943, grew up in the Rhineland and studied in Munich, where he qualified as a lawyer. He now lives as a freelance writer in San Francisco. »Hotel van Gogh« is his first novel. In 2015 the Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt published his second novel »1965 – Rue de Grenelle«.
»Flamboyant, certainly, but highly concentrated, à la Kleist, in its style and language. Kudos to the author!« Deutschlandradio
Rimbaud’s motto is a fitting introduction for the new novel by Hans Christoph Buch, one of Germany’s great literary travellers. The central protagonist is a fictional character called H.C. Buch, who may or may not resemble his creator.
Accompanied by his ex-wife, Judith, this Buch visits the places where the author spent his youth: the monastery La Sainte Baume, where he first learned French; Marseille, where his father was the German consul; and Sanary-sur-Mer, where the narrator pursues the traces of prominent writers-in-exile – Brecht, Feuchtwanger, Thomas and Heinrich Mann.
Gradually, the path of memory leads us into fiction. H.C. Buch metamorphoses: he becomes Count Dracula, travelling through time, or the husband of a voodoo goddess. In Haiti – the focal point of Buch’s real and literary existence – he is confronted with the consequences of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. The country as he knew it no longer exists. The loss of the past is clearly apparent, and Buch finally begins to face his own mortality. After his death, Judith, his ex-wife, decides to travel in his place. Finally, she recovers him in the Latin America of magic realism.
Buch’s novel is a game of literary deception. The text is split into a kaleidoscope of different stories and repeatedly mirrored in the narratives of literary characters and role models. In this way it gradually spirals in to converge on the real life of the author, without ever laying claim to biographical authenticity. Buch paints life as a journey into the realm of the dead and a quest for God. His protagonist and narrator becomes one of the living dead: filled with lightness, yet condemned to repeat the errors and mistakes he made during his lifetime.
In 1963, at the age of 19, Hans Christoph Buch became the youngest-ever member of the influential German literary association »Gruppe 47«. He has written numerous political reports and essays, primarily about Caribbean and African conflict zones. His previous publications with the Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt are the novella »Tod in Habana« and the novel »Reise um die Welt in acht Nächten«. Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt also published »Elf Arten, das Eis zu brechen« (2016) and the essay »Boat People. Literatur als Geisterschiff« (2014).
There is a promise having been made years ago: The one, who will gain a foothold in the big city, will make the other follow. Now she has come after her boy friend overseas, first and foremost to give herself a try in the distant metropolis. What was meant to be a fresh start turns out as the beginning of a farewell. There are Gregor’s extra hours and their uneasiness in the evenings when they both lie side by side in the dark. And the cat in the patio, which he feeds when he feels unobserved. Chased by her longing for familiar terrain, the narrator roams the wintrily streets and searches for some signs of love and their former intimacy.
She remembers scenes from the beginning of their relationship: when their bodies’ interplay seemed to overcome every limit and they both clung to the same dreams, when she presented him the documents for the Green-Card-Lottery believing she could push their common future. Now she has to painfully accept that he refuses her warmth and secludes himself. Visiting an opera performance together turns out as a disaster. The atmosphere is fragile as glass and compares to someone holding his breath. It keeps on until both are visiting a party. Suddenly a scene flashes through her mind when? in front of an open fridge? everything between them had unnoticedly fallen into pieces.
With a trenchant and distinct voice Britta Boerdner creates an emotional world distinguished by high-minded authenticity, a melancholic microcosm within a metropolis whose rigidity already points towards departure. By using impressive images the novel describes the moment when a love relationship silently – in hiding – ends.
Britta Boerdner was born in Fulda. After training as a bookseller, she majored in American studies, German studies and historical ethnology in Frankfurt on the Main. Her debut novel »What Remains Hidden«, published in 2012, has been followed by her second novel »The Day That Frank Z. Came to the ›Green Tree Inn‹«, published by FVA in 2017. Britta Boerdner lives in Frankfurt on the Main.
A great social novel, caustic, humorous, serious, it depicts the insidious, growing precariousness of life in Berlin in the early 21st century.
Thomas Frantz is a freelance journalist, bohemian, flâneur and chessboxer. He lives a rather unstructured life; his girlfriend is too old to have children, and he has, in any case, little desire to settle down. Frantz spends his days wandering around Berlin, encountering the city in all its variety: kabbalists, swingers, demonstrators, rundown betting offices, and the bourgeois haunts of the old West.
As he does so, he comments on all that he sees: the growing army of the precariate, people who still dream of making it big as they scrape by doing occasional jobs and turn to esotericism, volunteering and Pecha Kucha nights to give their lives some semblance of meaning. He researches the history of the former head office of the East German Communist Party: previously the headquarters of the Hitler Youth, originally a Jewish-run department store, and reinvented today as a luxurious private members’ club by London property speculators breathtakingly indifferent to the horrors and ironies of history.
Thomas Frantz, the chronicler of this new Berlin, unmasks the everyday lies he sees around him. Then the Ph.D student Sandra sweeps into his life like Hurricane Katrina, and it seems that everything is about to change. But is Frantz really prepared to start afresh?
Helmut Kuhn, born in 1962, studied history and media studies in Berlin and Paris. He worked as a trainee at the German-Jewish magazine Aufbau in New York. Today he lives as a freelance journalist and author in Berlin. He writes for publications including the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Stern, Focus and mare. Helmut Kuhn has been awarded the Hansel Mieth Prize for Best Report, was the recipient of a literary grant from the Kunstraum Syltquelle, and participated in the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in Klagenfurt. »Sidewalk Damages« has been published in 2012 with Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt, followed by the novel »Omi« (FVA 2016).
Maria Brecht spends her holiday with her friend on Crete. She has just been chosen a student of the diplomatic school of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is heading to a career as a diplomatic. But why is an inner voice telling her: This is not your way?
On a biking excursion in the mountains of Crete she encounters a mysterious stranger. She catches sight of a metallic case – and a blood trail from the trunk to the brushes. She flees; the stranger follows her with a knife. She can escape; a stone's throw hitting his shoulder saves her life. Inspector Gerakákis wants to know more: about the stranger, the blood, especially about the case. A speedboat coming from Libya has been found on the Cretan south coast. The case has probably been brought to the island last night. About the content he only says: It is precious enough to kill Maria, the only witness. He makes her an offer she cannot reject in her situation.
Athens. A city in state of exception. Garbage piles up in the streets, activists are occupying the Acropolis. The journalist Eléni Galánis is interested in Marias story. She is suspiciously well informed about it. Why does she warn of Gerakákis? Why do Cretan journals report on a German, who is the main subject in a murder case and now gone underground.
The stranger has brought the metallic case to Athens. He has a mission. And he has a score to settle with this country. Lots of people will die. But on Crete something went wrong. His commissioners are nervous. They do not believe that the German has been in the mountains by coincidence. What does she know? For whom is she working? She is posing a risk. She hurt his shoulder. This German will have to pay, too.
Kai Hensel, born in Hamburg in 1965, has been awarded several awards for his screenplays, stage plays and travel reports, and lives in Berlin.
Sold to: UK & Australia (Scribe), France (Libella), Georgia (Intelekti), Slovakia (Inaque)
»We have a new heroine of German contemporary literature.« Deutschlandradio Kultur
»Nino Haratischwili’s ›My Gentle Twin‹ is full of life and zappy, authentic and to the point.« Welt Online
»A love affair like a suicide commando. A book like a gathering place for the world’s tears, with so much courage for sentimentality.« KulturSpiegel
An intriguing love story between a man and a woman who can impossibly love each other ...
... due to a stroke of fate that binds them together like brother and sister. A narrative about two people who can only assert their identities by being with each other and who nevertheless attempt to forge their own paths. With »My Gentle Twin«, Nino Haratischwili presents a novel that combines both her dramatic and narrative skills with a language that is pervaded by Georgian passion und images.
Ivo and Stella have been chained to each other since early childhood by a common fate and a passionate but destructive love. Each of their attempts to live without each other, to escape the vicious circle of their wild erotic encounters and quarrels filled with hatred, fails. »My Gentle Twin« narrates the story of this big love relationship and fatal passion. Step by step and layer by layer, a dire family drama is unveiled that forever binds Stella and Ivo together.
»My Gentle Twin« displays a powerful, yet melancholic voice that is grave like the autumnal sea. With a sharp eye it captures the abysses and imponderabilities of human nature and tells a shattering family drama of a lost childhood and a great love that has no place in this world.
Nino Haratischwili, born in Georgia in 1983, writing in German, is an internationally bestselling and award-winning novelist, playwright and director. »The Eighth Life (For Brilka)« has been awarded the prestigious BDI Literature Prize of the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy 2015, the Anna Seghers Prize 2015, the Lessing Prize Stipend 2017, the Bertolt Brecht Prize 2018 and the Schiller Prize 2019. The English translation of »The Eighth Life (For Brilka)« by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin won the PEN Translates award 2016 and was nominated for the 2020 International Booker Prize. Her novel »The Cat And The General« was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2018.
»How can put so much suspense and feeling into such a small book? You have to be a magician between the lines — like Claire Beyer!« Brigitte
The story of a young boy, a child »left at the edge of the world« and the solitary teacher Karin Beerwald who is concerned about the boy’s problems recognizing his unease and far behind his friendly nature.
Eleven-year-old Donald comes from Latvia to Germany with his father. But what should be a new home turns out to be troublesome and lonley. His schoolmates keep picking on him, the boy has to grapple with the German language. Karin, a teacher, recognizes the harms of young Donald and is willing to help him. One day she finds him in a ramshackled empty house, which he uses as a hideout and refuge. But Donald is not the only guest the cabin shelters. A newspaper article leads them to a businessman who is wanted by the police. Before Donald knows it he finds himself in an oppressive and dangerous situation …
Claire Beyer was born in 1947 and lives in Markgröningen near Ludwigsburg. She has written a musical about Camille Claudel and published numerous novels and short stories including, »Rauken«, »Rosenhain«, »Remis« and »Refugium«.
Where action meets reflection: »World of Glass« by Ernst-Wilhelm-Händler
Jillian and Jacob Armacost run New York’s most famous glass gallery. A truly disparate couple. While Jillian has had a passion for the glasses of Tiffany’s ever since a childhood experience which at the age of twenty five made her a leading expert, thirty years older womanizer Jacob almost ruins their business with a really bad bargain.
Jillian wants to divorce Jacob, but first she has to secure the future of the gallery. A valuable collection of glass vases in Italy seem to be the last resort – without the slightest hesitation she flys to Europe. Meanwhile Jacob is at the mexican border. By entertaining an eccentric client he tries to come into money his own way.
Jillian and Jacob Armacost both committed their fate to the glass: She hopes for eternity, he lives life for the moment. Transparent but inaccessible, living yet still steady – the World of Glass. It means a lot of money for those who recognize what they see. While Jillian hits the bull’s eye in Italy, Jacob is kidnapped in Mexico …
Car chases in the streets of Tijuana, escapades in San Diego and in Venice – in Ernst-Wilhelm Händler’s great novel action meets reflection in a both surprising and imposing way.
Ernst-Wilhelm Händler was born in 1953, and lives in Regensburg and Munich.
»Composed with the suspense of a crime novel, the objective of philosophical concerns, with historical precision and psychological flair.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Konrad Weber is the deputy head of the German Consulate in Milan, which, seeming a peaceful place in 1943, protects him from the daily routine of the Nazi dictatorship. After his superior retires he has a much younger and inexperienced henchman plonked in front of him. Palmer finds out about some discrepancies in the books of account Weber is responsible for. Wendler, an acquaintance of his, provides a way out of Webers more than difficult situation, certainly not in an act of charity. He proposes a risky deal ...
Nora Bossong's debut novel »Hereabout« (FVA, 2006) was praised »one of the best in the last years«. In her second book »Weber's Record« a young narrator reconstructs Weber's past with the help of an old diplomat: an exciting novel, artistically synchronizing various time levels – a book about a german diplomat under Hitler, and in Post-War Germany, where everybody's trying to forget about the past.
»A highly concentrated character sketch of a contemporary witness and a suspenseful crime novel!« Frankfurter Rundschau
»The most talented writer of her generation! Comparably young authors pale into insignificance beside the historical precision and the stylistic intuition of Nora Bossong.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Nora Bossong lives in Berlin. Her research took the young writer to Rome, Milan and Zurich where she came into contact with the highly official but secretive world of diplomats and state secretaries. She got a scholarship for the German House in New York for »Weber's Record«
»Book Four is a piece of program music – a globally considered lyrical report.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
»Book Four « / »Buch Vier« starts in September 2001 right in the middle of a typhoon in the Taiwanese metropolis of Taipeh, the CNN-pictures of 9/11 in the background, and ends in New York before Ground Zero. Infused with the traumatic beginning of the new century Gräf's poems position poetry as a contemporary art form. In four chapters, between the southeast asian upbeat and the American finale, the old world, Venice, Rome and Vézelay in particular, is being explored.
At their centre, the poems deal with death, from which a life and its meaning can be conceived. The art historian Winckelmann, the poet and filmmaker Pasolini, the radical left-wing publisher Feltrinelli, the fascist dictator Mussolini and the Black Muslim icon Malcolm X – they all have in common a mysterious, iridescent untimely end.
Dieter M. Gräf, born in 1960, lives in Berlin.
The Portrait is an impressive and breathtaking novel about a young woman whose outstanding artistic talent is uncannily exploited by a famous art collector.
Helen, a young painter, is on her way to an unknown city. Through the window of the plane, she gazes at the unfamiliar places below: somewhere down there is the house that she is going to spend the next three months in, invited by a well-known and rich art collector.
She is supposed to portray him. One condition of their contract is that she is not allowed to leave his property during her stay. Whilst the portrait progresses, Helen's feeling of unease increases. The huge villa is deserted. The employees give her the cold shoulder. Her trips into the wide, park-like estate show her that something strange must be going on. The initial idyll turns into a disaster. Her host controls her and regards her as his personal trophy. She finds out that he once supported a young artist, who subsequently committed suicide. When she tries to escape, the collector knowingly prevents her getaway. However, in the end, Helen manages to save herself.