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German Book Prize

September 9, 2010

Characters uprooted, a search for home and glimpses beyond German borders characterize each of the novels that made the German Book Prize shortlist. Have a peek at some of the year's best writers.

A wooden sculpture of stacked books attracts visitors' stares
The winning author will receive 25,000 euros ($32,000)Image: AP

The announcement of the German Book Prize winner, scheduled for October 4, is now less than a month away. The jury has announced its short list of the year's six best German-language novels, following its long list of 20 nominees presented in August. Below, Deutsche Welle compiled a preview of the top six.

NOTE: Since the books below were only recently published in German, they are not yet available in English translation.

Melinda Nadj Abonji
Melinda Nadj AbonjiImage: Gaëtan Bally

Falcons without Falconers
("Tauben fliegen auf")
Melinda Nadj Abonji

The title of Abonji's novel about a Balkan childhood rent by the collapse of Yugoslavia contains a pun: The title's verb "auffliegen" can mean either "to fly off" or "to get busted or exposed." The book's protagonist flees to Switzerland with her family, where an unsteady life and a search for her roots ensue.

Thomas Lehr
Thomas LehrImage: picture-alliance/APA/picturedesk.com

("September.Fata Morgana")
Thomas Lehr

An American father mourns the death of his daughter in the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, while another father deals with the loss of his daughter killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. Lehr uses no punctuation in this novel that weaves two men's anguish together along with Eastern and Western narrative techniques.

Jan Faktor
Jan FaktorImage: Susanne Schleyer/autorenarchiv.de

Georg's Worries about the Past…
("Georgs Sorgen um die Vergangenheit oder Im Reich des heiligen Hodensack-Bimbams von Prag")
Jan Faktor

Something stinks in Faktor's novel - and it's not just the mildew and broken drain pipe in the young hero's household full of female relatives. The dirt and chaos in the house become a symbol for the political stagnation of Czechoslovakia under socialism in the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

Peter Wawerzinek
Peter WawerzinekImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Motherless Child
Peter Wawerzinek

Winner of this year's prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, "Raven Love" follows a boy abandoned by his mother in East Germany on a sordid odyssey through group homes and foster families. The narrative includes kids' songs and newspaper clippings about abused children, shifting a personal fate to the social stage.

Judith Zander
Judith ZanderImage: Heike Bogenberger/dtv

Things We Say Today
("Dinge, die wir heute sagen")
Judith Zander

This year's youngest nominee authored her debut about a woman who returns to her hometown to bury her mother after years spent in voluntary exile. Her Irish husband and son accompany her to the provincial German village, where they collide with other generations and ways of life.

Doron Rabinovici
Doron RabinoviciImage: picture-alliance / APA/picturedesk.com

Doron Rabinovici

The Tel Aviv-born author has lived in Vienna since he was a young child, and his novel shifts between both locations as well. Two academics vie against each other for a professorship and get caught up in a heated debate about historical guilt and Jewish identity along the way. The book's insightful, witty perspective lends irony to its characters' treachery and intrigue.

Author: Ayguel Cizmecioglu (gsw)
Editor: Kate Bowen