Friends and acquaintances often ask me to recommend guidebooks as they plan their first visits to Europe. I rarely do, suggesting they instead pick up some contemporary fiction from their selected destination. In many cases it’ll provide more specific insight than any single bulky travel guide, and it won’t become dated nearly as fast.
Two of the finalist titles are books that paint a portrait of society in the crumbling German Democratic Republic: Uwe Teilkamp’s “Der Turm” and Ingo Schulze’s “Adam und Evelyn.”
In Dietmar Dath’s “Die Abschaffung der Arten” it’s the animals who talk and act after the world’s demise. In Sherko Fatah’s “Das dunkle Schiff,” a former jihadist flees to Germany from Iraq. With “Nach Hause schwimmen,” Rolf Lappert has delivered a coming-of-age story, while Iris Hanika’s “Treffen sich zwei” is the only love story among the finalists.
No word on when or whether they’ll be published in translation, but don’t let that hold you back. You can begin browsing some other possibilities here. Any recommendations?