German Book Prize announces 2018 shortlist | Books | DW | 11.09.2018
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German Book Prize announces 2018 shortlist

Historical fiction takes the spotlight in the six titles selected out of 165 entries this year. Here are the books vying for the top prize.

Maria Cecilia Barbetta: Nachtleuchten (Night Lights)

Barbetta's novel takes place during the onset of Argentina's military dictatorship in the mid 1970s. The author, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1972 and writes in German, describes the atmosphere in the immigrant neighborhood of Ballester. A fluorescent Madonna, disappearing cats, a beautiful nun and a young detective all play a role. Mysteries are not always resolved, and some narrative strands are only vaguely connected in this fascinating work.

Maxim Biller: Sechs Koffer (Six Suitcases)

Biller's novel tells the tale of a family fleeing to a foreign land, leaving behind puzzles to be unraveled and secrets to be revealed. Biller himself was born in 1960 in Prague to Russian-Jewish parents and immigrated to West Germany in 1970.

Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General (The Cat and the General)

Hamburg-based Haratischwili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and writes in German. In her book, Haratischwili looks back and into the abyss, "which opened up between the ruins of the decaying Soviet empire," according to a description of the book from the publishing house. It tells the story of Russian oligarch Alexander Orlov, known to everyone only as "the general," and raises questions of guilt and atonement in times of war.

Inger-Maria Mahlke: Archipel (Archipelago)

Mahlke's novel begins in 2015 and tells of a family's history on the Canary Island of Tenerife over several generations. In a laconic tone, the book follows a young woman returning home to her grandfather who recounts the upheavals of the civil war. The author and criminologist, born in Hamburg in 1977, grew up there and in Lübeck.

Susanne Röckel: Der Vogelgott (The Bird God)

Although the bird god is a vulture that stinks of carrion, to his followers he appears to be a powerful and venerable god. He is tracked by teacher and bird hunter Konrad Weyde, who leaves an unpublished manuscript attesting to the bird's grim powers. Röckel describes the encounter with the bird god from the three different perspectives of Weyde's children. In very different ways, they all succumb to the pull of the mythical being, fascinated by his cult.

Stephan Thome: Gott der Barbaren (God of the Barbarians)

Thome's book tells of the opium wars of 1840-1842, which began China's semi-colonial dependency, when the British Empire forced the ports to open and flooded the country with opium. Several years later, a Christian and egalitarian rebellion against the imperial family rose in the interior of the country that led to the Taiping Rebellion. Thome uses this period in history as the setting for his captivating novel. It is led by his hero, a young missionary who accidentally sets off for China in 1850.

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From Hessen to Taipei: Stephan Thome

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