Gittersee Zusatzmaterial
Gittersee Zusatzmaterial
Sample Translations English


Sample Translations English
  • Winner of the Aspekte Literary Prize 2023
  • Winner of the Literary Prize of the Jürgen Ponto Foundation 2023
  • Longlisted for the German Book Prize 2023
  • Selected by New Books in German
  • Sample translation available here

A shift in generational storytelling about recent German history - and a remarkable debut

The year is 1976 in the GDR. Karin, 16, lives in Dresden’s working-class suburb of Gittersee, where she looks after her toddler sister and helps her obstinate grandmother around the house, who is still lamenting the end of her time in the Wehrmacht. Karin’s father is struggling to keep his Skoda and family life running, while her mother wishes she had a different existence altogether. Karin’s only confidante is her friend Marie, a girl with big dreams: she wants to be the first woman on the moon. Karin is also head over heels in love with her boyfriend Paul, who aspires to be an artist but works in the mines. When Paul takes off on a weekend outing and doesn’t come back, two policemen turn up at Karin’s door asking his whereabouts. Her world is turned upside down and in her confusion, she seeks support from the attractive policeman Wickwalz. He in turn persuades her to inform on her family and friends as an unofficial collaborator. When she realises she’s been betrayed by Wickwalz, she takes drastic measures to break free again.

In her searing debut novel, Charlotte Gneuss tells us stories from a country that no longer exists and asks whether innocence in a totalitarian state is possible.

"One reads her novel "Gittersee" with bated breath, shocked by the literary power of this first novel. A book that will endure." - Süddeutsche Zeitung, Olaf Przybilla

"It is fascinating how Charlotte Gneuß captures the GDR feeling very precisely in her novel [...] which is, however, narrated realistically. [...] It is an extremely successful literary debut." - Die Zeit, Alexander Cammann

"The novel's pull arises from the contrast between the atmosphere of confinement, state restrictions and the will for freedom" - Süddeutsche Zeitung, Christoph Schröder

"The atmospheric persuasiveness of her novel is as high as the linguistic." - Frankfurter Rundschau, Judith von Sternburg

"She finds her own language, her own rhythm, her own tone colour for her narrative. No phrases, nothing that you have read before." - Spiegel Bestseller, Xaver von Cranach

"Gneuss has written an exciting, instructive book about a youth in the GDR." - Tagesspiegel, Philipp Haibach

"[...] a contemporary document wrapped in a dramatic family story. Should become school reading. Or at least a bestseller." - Stern, Christine Westermann

"A debut novel with the right tone and the right questions" - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Katharina Teutsch

"[...] an atmospherically dense, gripping story" - Bücher am Sonntag (NZZ), Manfred Pabst

“Does that sound familiar? Your heart is burning, but you’re pretending it never burned? Charlotte Gneuss’s heart is a lonely hunter.” Monika Helfer

"Definitely a must read. One of my favorite discoveries. A really, really great book that is remotely reminiscent of Daniela Krien's first book (Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything) - which is why I liked it so much." Bookseller Thalia, Rostock

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  • Publisher: S. FISCHER
  • Release: 30.08.2023
  • 240 pages
Alena Schmick

Charlotte Gneuß

Charlotte Gneuss was born in Ludwigsburg in 1992, studied social work in Dresden, creative writing in Leipzig and writing for the stage in Berlin. She has published her work in literary magazines, is a guest writer for ZEIT Online, and has been invited to literary workshops by the Jürgen Ponto Foundation and the Kölner Schmiede. She is also the winner of the Leonhard Frank Scholarship for New Drama and the editor of the anthology Glückwunsch, published by Hanser Berlin. Gneuss’ work repeatedly returns to the GDR – the reality and utopia of the country where her parents grew up, but which no longer exists.