Selected Literary Translations

Siblings by Brigitte Reimann was a cult book in the GDR. It was published just two years after the Berlin Wall was built and follows attempts by Elizabeth, a passionate socialist who believes in the future of a new state, to stop her brother from defecting to the West. The flavours and colours of the GDR are vividly evoked as well as Elizabeth’s run-ins with the Stasi and the old Communist guard at the factory where she goes to set up a circle of worker painters. ‘Reimann was part of a generation in which women enjoyed equal pay, they had the right to have an abortion, to get a divorce … she could live alone, smoke weed, listen to jazz, cut her hair short, whilst in the west women were often held back, couldn’t get jobs or vote without the permission of their husbands – which was why Reimann’s works had a considerable following in the west as well.’ Excerpt from the Guardian interview).

Further reviews can be read in The New Yorker, The TLS, The New Statesman, The Sunday Times and The Guardian

Interview on Open Book, BBC Radio 4 with Jenny Erpenbeck and Octavia Bright on 25 June 2023

Appearance on ARD’s programme, ttt on 30 July 2023

Runner-up in the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2023

Penguin Modern Classics / Transit Books· Fiction · 2023

Higher Ground by Anke Stelling is a caustic attack on the invisible class divide in modern Germany. The story explores Resi’s slow realisation that she is an outsider in a group she considered to be her closest friends. Compared to A. L. Kennedy’s rich but uncomfortable storytelling by Annie. It was voted Ann Morgen’s book of the month in April 2021:  ‘All credit to translator Lucy Jones here, for the humour is largely in the writing, with rhythms, bathos and the subversion of expectations all delivering laughs.’ ‘Higher Ground is an absorbing novel that kept me interested from start to finish. Laced with dark humour, it’s very contemporary, skewering complacency and hypocrisy among the moneyed classes in Berlin … It’s often laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s often wise as well, even when she’s sending herself up.’ A polarising book that takes a look at the German class in modern-day Berlin.

Scribe Publications· Fiction · 2021

Blueprint is a fictionalised account of a female student at the Weimar and Dessau Bauhaus schools in the 1920s. It demonstrates how, for all its progressiveness in artistic terms, Bauhaus was not as pioneering in its sexual politics. Fascinating insights into the school of architecture that made history and shaped art movements throughout the world. ‘Fast-paced, and highly topical, Blueprint depicts a young woman in the throes of life.’ Lois Innes writes in the preface: ‘The likes of Me Too and Stop Trump movements are encouraging demonstrations of feminist advocacy and suggest we are much quicker to articulate or call out misogyny than would have been the case 100 years ago. (…) Enzensberger (…) reminds us not to overlook certain institutions we deem safe or exempt from prejudice.’

Click here for an interview with the author in The Brooklyn Rail.

Dialogue Books · Fiction ·2019

The first volume of Brigitte Reimann’s diaries, I Have No Regrets 1955-1963 gives a welcome introduction to Reimann’s work (…) There is passionate self-reflection, political insight and a fierce commitment to the art of fiction on practically every page’, wrote Ian Ellison in the Times Literary Supplement. These diaries ‘reveal and display her fundamental forthrightness (…) making for an unvarnished picture of life in the workers’ state that, in its focus on the essential-human, nevertheless doesn’t fit neatly the picture readers might expect. (…) One reason her work was underestimated in the Federal Republic during her lifetime (…) surely was because this was an unfamiliar, much more intimate-personal approach to political writing.’ They begin when she was 22 – the volumes before she burnt. The second volume, It All Tastes of Farewell Diaries 1964-1970, is translated by Steph Morris.

Seagull Books · Non-Fiction ·2019

Lyric Novella is a tale of a young aristocratic man’s obsession with a cabaret star set in the Weimar period in Berlin. Annemarie Schwarzenbach was a journalist, antifascist, archaeologist and traveller. In her youth, she spent some time in bohemian Berlin, where the photographer Marianna Breslauer took her portrait saying she was ‘the most beautiful creature I’ve ever met.’ In it, Schwarzenbach leans against a car, androgynous and distant. In psychologically acute prose, the protagonist of Lyric Novella is an incarnation of Schwarzenbach’s alter-ego, ‘leaving little doubt that Lyric Novella is a tale of lesbian love.’ (Naveen Kishore in New Books in German, autumn 2011).

Seagull Books · Fiction · 2011

Further publications with links to reviews 

I Have No Regrets: Diaries 1955-1963, Brigitte Reimann, Seagull Books, London (2019), reviewed in the TLS, 9 October 2020 and the Complete Review

Death in Persia (2013), Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Seagull Books, reviewed in the TLS on 15 October 2021

Berlin Noir, Thomas Wörtche (ed.), Akashic Books, New York, reviewed in Kirkus Reviews, 7 May 2019

Living in the Anthropocene, Christian Schwägerl, Synergetic Press, Santa Fe (2014)