Have I ever mentioned my fantastic plan for avoiding reading the classics? The plan was to watch the movie versions instead and appear learned and well-read in polite conversation without having to do the dusty book thing. Except I never got round to it.
Should you be the other way inclined and never get round to reading contemporary German literature, you're in luck. Because right now, for some reason, German cinemas are a veritable carnival of literary adaptations! So sneak your favourite beverage into your local movie theatre (I find those mini bottles of bubbly ideal for this purpose) and pretend you're au fait with the literary now generation at the next party you attend.
Start off with Juli Zeh's Schilf, a top-flight clever detective-cum-physics story available in the UK as Dark Matter and in the US as In Free Fall. Next up is Glück, based on a short story by Ferdinand von Schirach - a love story you know's going to end tragically, taken from the collection called Crime in English. Not based on the newest of books but still contemporary, Russendisko (Russian Disco in the English translation) gives Vladimir Kaminer's Russians in post-89 Berlin tales the movie treatment. And then there's Daniel Kehlmann's Ruhm, an adaptation of the interlocking stories called Fame in English.
I haven't really been following the critical reception but you know how everybody hates literary adaptations. Nor have I seen any of the films. One adaptation I did see though was Faust, a bit of a waste for me on the classic adaptations front because I did of course read the play about a hundred years ago. But it was great arty fun, full of grunts and silences and bits that made you think you need new glasses. I'd certainly recommend it.