Contemporary German authors in English translation
The recent success of The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch and other books by German writers, including the Inkworld trilogy for young readers by Cornelia Funke, has highlighted the talents of contemporary writers from Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.
Many of these works have been translated into English. German-language authors cover a wide range of literature, from science-fiction (The Swarm by Frank Schätzing) to historical novels (The Reader by Bernhard Schlink) and historical mystery thrillers (The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch).
A number of recent books in German have been turned into popular films by Hollywood and European studios. The Reader (Der Vorleser) became an award-winning 2008 film drama starring Kate Winslet, David Kross and Ralph Fiennes. Schätzing’s The Swarm is in early production. Young readers enjoyed watching the 2006 film version of Funke’s The Thief Lord, set in Venice.
The author of many popular books for children and teens, Funke was born in Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia in 1958. She lived with her husband and children in Hamburg for 24 years before moving to Los Angeles in 2005. Often referred to as “the J.K. Rowling of Germany,” Funke’s Tintenwelt/Inkworld trilogy and other works have become very popular in German and English. She has sold over 10 million books worldwide. In the early 1980s, Funke began writing fantasy books for children, drawing on her experience as a social worker dealing with disadvantaged children. The first of her books to be translated into English was Herr der Diebe, published by Scholastic in the US as Thief Lord in 2002. The German author often travels to book fairs and other publishing events around the world.
Cornelia Funke (1958- ) > corneliafunkefans.com
Herr der Diebe (2000, Dressler) > Buy it – Amazon.de
The Thief Lord (2002, Scholastic) Buy it from Amazon.com
FILM: The Thief Lord (2006) > Get the DVD from Amazon.com
Tintenwelt (2003, Dressler) – boxed set of 3 books > Buy it – Amazon.de
Tintenherz (2003, Dressler) > Buy it from Amazon.de (paperback)
Inkheart (2004, Scholastic) > Buy it from Amazon.com (paperback)
Inkspell (2005, Scholastic) > Buy it from Amazon.com (paperback)
Inkdeath (2006, Scholastic) > Buy it from Amazon.com (paperback)
FILM: Inkheart (2009) > Get the DVD from Amazon.com
The English titles in the Inkheart trilogy are: Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath.
Born in Munich in 1970, Pötzsch had a career as a radio and television journalist before turning to writing. In 2008, Ullstein published his first historical novel entitled Die Henkerstochter, based in part on real people from his own ancestral background. After an e-book English translation became a bestseller, The Hangman’s Daughter was first published in the US as an ebook by AmazonCrossing in 2010, and in 2011 as a print book by Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Pötzsch has now completed four titles in the planned Hangman’s Daughter series of five books. All four are now available in English. The author published another historical novel in 2011. Based on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the Bavarian King Ludwig II, Die Ludwig-Verschwörung (“The Ludwig Conspiracy”) revolves around the discovery of a fictional diary that reveals some of the mysteries surrounding Ludwig’s drowning 125 years ago.
Books by Oliver Pötzsch > Web (oliver-poetzsch.de)
Die Henkerstochter (2008, Ullstein, paperback) > Buy it – Amazon.de
The Hangman’s Daughter (2011, Mariner, paperback) > Buy it – Amazon.com (paperback)
KINDLE edition: Buy it – Amazon.com
Die Henkerstochter und der schwarze Mönch (2009, Ullstein, paperback) > Buy it – Amazon.de
Die Henkerstochter und der König der Bettler (2010, Ullstein, paperback) > Buy it – Amazon.de
Der Hexer und die Henkerstochter (2012, Ullstein, paperback) > Buy it – Amazon.de
The author was born in Cologne, Germany in 1957. Schätzing studied communications and worked in advertising before beginning his literary career. Although he has written many books, mostly crime stories and science-fiction, he is best known for Der Schwarm, a science-fiction novel, first published in Germany in 2004. The English version, The Swarm, was published in 2007. There are rumors of a planned film version of The Swarm. His latest book is another sci-fi novel, the 1328-page (!) Limit (2009). Several of Schätzing’s stories have already been made into German TV movies. He and his wife live in Cologne.
Frank Schätzing > frank-schaetzing.com
Der Schwarm (2004, Kiepenheuer & Witsch) > Buy it – Amazon.de (paperback)
Limit (2009, Kiepenheuer & Witsch) > Buy it – Amazon.de (paperback)
Limit (2009, Kiepenheuer & Witsch) > Buy it – Amazon.de (hardcover)
The Swarm (2007, Harper Perennial) > Buy it – Amazon.com (paperback)
A film version is planned.
The author was born near Bielefeld, Germany in 1944 and grew up in Heidelberg. Schlink, a judge and a professor of law (now retired), began his writing career with detective stories (translated into English as the Self series), but it was his 1995 novel, Der Vorleser, that propelled him to fame. The Reader, translated into 39 languages, became an international bestseller in 1997 and a hit Hollywood film in 2008. Schlink’s short story, Der Andere (published in the Liebesfluchten collection in 2000) was filmed as The Other Man in 2008, starring Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas and Laura Linney.
Bernhard Schlink > Web (Wikipedia, English)
Der Vorleser (1997, Diogenes) > Buy it – Amazon.de (paperback)
The Reader (1999, Vintage) > Buy it – Amazon.com (paperback)
Buy it – Amazon.com (hardcover)
KINDLE edition: Buy it – Amazon.com (e-book)
FILM: The Reader (2008) > Get the DVD – Amazon.com
Other German Writers
Although works by the classic writers in German literature (Kafka, Rilke, Mann, etc.) are usually accessible in English, there are many contemporary German, Austrian and German-Swiss authors whose works are seldom if ever translated into English. But a few notable titles in the last decade that have been translated into English are Jurek Becker’s Jacob the Liar (which was also a film starring Robin Williams) and a 2008 autobiographical novel (Spaltkopf) by the Russian-born Austrian writer Julya Rabinowich, published in English as Splithead by Portobello Books, London (2011). – See the web links below for help in finding English translations of books in German.
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