The Short End of the Sonnenallee: A Novel (Paperback)

The Short End of the Sonnenallee: A Novel By Thomas Brussig, Jonathan Franzen (Introduction by), Jenny Watson (Translated by), Jonathan Franzen (Translated by) Cover Image

The Short End of the Sonnenallee: A Novel (Paperback)

By Thomas Brussig, Jonathan Franzen (Introduction by), Jenny Watson (Translated by), Jonathan Franzen (Translated by)

$16.00


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Thomas Brussig’s classic German novel, The Short End of the Sonnenallee, now appearing for the first time in English, is a moving and miraculously comic story of life in East Berlin before the fall of the Wall

Young Micha Kuppisch lives on the nubbin of a street, the Sonnenallee, whose long end extends beyond the Berlin Wall outside his apartment building. Like his friends and family, who have their own quixotic dreams—to secure an original English pressing of Exile on Main St., to travel to Mongolia, to escape from East Germany by buying up cheap farmland and seceding from the country—Micha is desperate for one thing. It’s not what his mother wants for him, which is to be an exemplary young Socialist and study in Moscow. What Micha wants is a love letter that may or may not have been meant for him, and may or may not have been written by the most beautiful girl on the Sonnenallee. Stolen by a gust of wind before he could open it, the letter now lies on the fortified “death strip” at the base of the Wall, as tantalizingly close as the freedoms of the West and seemingly no more attainable.

The Short End of the Sonnenallee, finally available to an American audience in a pitch-perfect translation by Jonathan Franzen and Jenny Watson, confounds the stereotypes of life in totalitarian East Germany. Brussig’s novel is a funny, charming tale of adolescents being adolescents, a portrait of a surprisingly warm community enduring in the shadow of the Iron Curtain. As Franzen writes in his foreword, the book is “a reminder that, even when the public realm becomes a nightmare, people can still privately manage to preserve their humanity, and be silly, and forgive.”

Thomas Brussig is the author of seven novels, including Wie es leuchtet and Helden wie wir (Heroes Like Us, FSG, 1997). As a screenwriter, he worked with Edgar Reitz on his Heimat epic. Born in East Berlin, Brussig now divides his time between Berlin and Mecklenburg.

Jonathan Franzen is the author of five novels, including The Corrections, Freedom, and Crossroads, and five works of nonfiction, most recently Farther Away and The End of the End of the Earth, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Jonathan Franzen is the author of five novels, including The Corrections, Freedom, and Crossroads, and five works of nonfiction, most recently Farther Away and The End of the End of the Earth, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Product Details ISBN: 9781250878991
ISBN-10: 1250878993
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: April 4th, 2023
Pages: 160
Language: English

"One of the most brilliant satirical novels about life in East Berlin, in the shadow of the wall (quite literally)”. —Daniel Kehlmann, The New York Times Book Review

Compact, charming . . . [Jonathan] Franzen and [Jenny] Watson’s translation keeps up an idiomatic swagger and ebullient good humor. Mr. Brussig’s upbeat tale of life a few yards behind the Iron Curtain celebrates not the GDR regime but the sheer resilience that allows prisoners—of any system—to find inner freedom behind bars.” —Boyd Tonkin, The Wall Street Journal

"A charming comedy of mid-80s East Germany; funny and tender, [this book] damns totalitarianism through its warm focus on ordinary, riotous teenage life." —The Guardian

"A delicious slice of life in 1980s East Berlin . . . Comedy, which comes through perfectly in the sharp translation, is essential to Brussig’s project as he subverts the dread and paranoia of East German life by portraying a small world with love, tenderness, and humor hidden within it. There’s a lot to love in this flipping of the Cold War script." —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"This novel . . . performs what the author calls 'the miracle of making peace with the past' . . . Jonathan Franzen and Jenny Watson offer a stylish and elegant Sonnenallee." —Maren Meinhardt, The Times Literary Supplement

“An airy, cheerful translation . . . funny [and] rueful.”—Nikhil Krishnan, The Telegraph (UK)