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July 2015

Emerging German Writers

This month we present writing from emerging German authors. These writers nod to literary tradition while taking fresh approaches to current political and social conditions, providing a new vision of contemporary German culture. Acclaimed novelist Olga Grjasnowa, whose debut novel, All Russians Love Birch Trees, was published by Other Press, jumpstarts her second with a harrowing scene of a young woman imprisoned and tortured for drag racing. Finn-Ole Heinrich stares into the yawning hole left by loss. The droll Francis Nenik tracks a surprising postwar delivery from the United States to Poland. In stories from other battles, Isabelle Lehn’s extras soldier through war games, and Noemi Schneider travels in, and with, the Mideast conflict. Stephanie Bart pulls a rickshaw and no punches. Playwright Marianna Salzmann visits a bemused strip club, while essayist Bettina Suleiman links primate and human activities. In poetry, Simone Kornappel takes a roundabout approach to sexuality, and Deniz Utlu’s riff on the Divine Comedy lands a transsexual Beatrice in a dark German wood. We thank our guest editor, Katy Derbyshire, who introduces the issue and contributes several translations.

Our special feature brings our first publications from Burundi, a country thrust into the spotlight by political turmoil ahead of upcoming elections.

Introduction: Emerging German Writers
By Katy Derbyshire
For a long time, a large photo hung above the stage at Berlin’s Literary Colloquium, shot by Renate von Mangoldt and showing a meeting of the writers’ group Gruppe 47 there in 1965. Rows and…
You Turn Your Head, I Turn My Head
By Finn-Ole Heinrich
Do I build a tree house without you?
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire
The Legal Haziness of a Marriage
By Olga Grjasnowa
Ten days was too long for a conversion and too short for a re-education.
Translated from German by Eva Bacon
Rickshaw Diaries
By Stephanie Bart
Anyone wearing such a provocative pair of lederhosen is asking for trouble and shouldn’t be surprised to get it.
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire
After Half a Life
By Deniz Utlu
1After half a life: selva oscura. The dog that I was.Jesus-mittens nailed onto treetips—the Lord had large hands.Blooms made of ejaculate. I walked on. Deeper into the woods.2King of the beasts:…
Translated from German by Jake Schneider
In Praise of an American Egg Wholesaler
By Francis Nenik
American chicken breasts will keep Europe at peace!”
Translated from German by Amanda DeMarco
By Isabelle Lehn
If you’re dead you can go back to the barracks.
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire
Maidenhands and Monologues
By Marianna Salzmann
I roll myself up on the floor and purr like a cat.
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire
By Noemi Schneider
He doesn’t say that he had no choice. He says that his father was also a soldier. He says that if he had the choice today, he would perhaps choose differently. At that time he made his choice.My…
Translated from German by Julie Winter
as a mouse
By Simone Kornappel
“muxmäuschen” © Simone Kornappel. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Jake Schneider. All rights reserved.
Translated from German by Jake Schneider
From “Baho!”
By Roland Rugero
It was inconceivable that a chicken could get lost.
Translated from French by Chris Schaefer
My Friends
By Abdoul Mtoka
My friends are distressedStunned into silenceMany of them grieveAnd all have despairedSuddenly the night has attacked usIt’s so dark I can’t see my pathDarkness spreads over everythingLike…
Translated from Swahili by Shook & Jean Claude Nduwimana
Burundi: Writing from the State of Sleep
By Shook
Burundi is a small East Central African nation on the northern edge of Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, which holds almost one-fifth of the world’s entire fresh water supply.…
By Ketty Nivyabandi
History will remember this manOur grandchildren will study him between school recessesOld women will speak of him as a strange enigmaA myth, an eccentric aberration . . .The old men will brush off their…
Translated from French by Shook
Lessons from the Human Zoo
By Bettina Suleiman
In the 1950s, the behavioral scientist Desmond Morris carried out art experiments with the chimpanzee Congo. What began with a hesitant pencil line drawn by Congo soon led to expressive, powerful, abstract…
Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire