Today they announced the fifteen nominated titles for the three categories in the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair, Germany's big springtime literary award.
Non-fiction ranges from pop theory to an analysis of changing fashions to a biography of Max Weber. Translations come from Norwegian, American English, Japanese, French and Romanian, and here are the fiction nominations:
Fabian Hirschmann: Am Ende schmeißen wir mit Gold
A debut novel that's being compared to Wolfgang Herrndorf's Tschick and Thomas Klupp's Paradiso, possibly because it's about a young man from a comfortable background going on a road trip, it would appear. I'd say it's closer to Klupp, but only because I hate the protagonist already, from the short sample I've read. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
Per Leo: Flut und Boden
The embarrassing pun in the title gives it away – a grandson named Per is fascinated by the story behind his Nazi grandfather and his Goethe-obsessed great-uncle, who grew up in a villa on the River Weser. It might be interesting, or it might be another personal reckoning with Germany's dark twentieth century history. Of course, it might also be both.
Martin Mosebach: Das Blutbuchenfest
Conservative Germany's favourite old man contrasts a garden party with the outbreak of war in Yugoslavia. I suspect there will be lots of deplorable wealthy people doing debauched things, while the Bosnian cleaning lady looks on in horror and enjoys the simple pleasures in life. Certainly, she gets innocently naked on page 10. But people do so love his style.
Katja Petrowskaya: Vielleicht Esther
I shall be reading this one, most definitely. Petrowskaya won the Bachmann Prize last year with an extract from the manuscript, and it was good, solid, touching writing. Rights have already sold to fourteen countries and everyone's talking about it. Her family history (Jewish, Ukraine) in short chapters or stories, with the first-person narrator reflecting on whether it's OK to write about them and whether the stories are true, as far as I recall. I think it might win.
Saša Stanišić: Vor dem Fest
Another personal must. I've heard the author read from the manuscript twice now and enjoyed it enormously. As did the Döblin Prize judges, who gave him the bi-annual award for unpublished manuscripts. Stories, myths, characters from a Brandenburg village, swooping between the centuries – with a quiet humour that Stanišić worked hard to get pitch-perfect.
The winners will be announced at the book fair in Leipzig on 13 March.