Talkin’ bout a Revolution

Rudi Dutschke has been portrayed as a thoughtful character plagued by constant self-doubt in a new book. With this astonishing 500-page biography, Ulrich Chaussy proves his in-depth expertise. The author examines Dutschke’s youth and how he started working on own ideas for a socialist and equal society.1

“Rudi Dutschke. Die Biografie” is not just a profound investigation of the far-left student movement icon’s theories. Chaussy has also done a fine job describing the political environment in a mid-20th century divided Germany. Especially young people were seething with anger over the war in Vietnam. However, they were also infuriated by the staunch conservative element in domestic politics.

The immensely detailed chapters on Dutschke’s theories are rather tiring. But “Rudi Dutschke. Die Biografie” brilliantly describes his private life, the doomed years in exile and his involvement in establishing Germany’s Green Party.

Rudi Dutschke. Die Biografie
By Ulrich Chaussy
Published by Droemer (www.droemer-knaur.de)

Gottschalk on booze, kids & the blaze

When broadcasting executives axed his primetime show, Thomas Gottschalk might have felt as if this were the end of the road for him. But the entertainer just carried on. Embarking on other television projects and returning to radio, Gottschalk just kept on going. A bestselling autobiography was just the icing on the cake.1

Now there’s “Herbstbunt”, another book by the tousle-haired presenter and actor. While “Herbstblond. Die Autobiografie” was an ideal opportunity to look back on the many heart-stopping moments of his showbiz career, “Herbstbunt” is an astonishingly humble reflection on highly personal issues.

Gottschalk – who fell in love with another woman after having being married for more than 40 years – abstains from launching a war of words with his ex-wife, underlining he would keep certain details to himself. But the 69-year-old television legend’s new book is a no-holds-barred reflection of getting older.

Invariably portrayed as the bragging entertainer, Gottschalk opens up on how he tried to curb his drinking. He admits constant weight gain worries and hits out at would-be starlets propelled to fame on Instagram. On a more serious note, Gottschalk looks back on the day he learned that a fierce blaze erased his Californian mansion.

Herbstbunt. Wer nur alt wird, aber nicht klüger, ist schön blöd
By Thomas Gottschalk
Published by Heyne (www.heyne.de)

Cheeky & cheerful

It has not always been plain sailing for Jean-Paul Belmondo. However, his autobiography suggests that the veteran movie star’s life has been just one wild ride.1.jpg

In “Meine tausend Leben” features anecdotes that will make your mind boggle. Belmondo (“Breathless”, “A Woman Is a Woman”) speaks with candour about his breakthrough as an actor despite many scathing reviews. But looking back on all the pranks he played seems to be what he enjoyed the most.

Translated into German by Pauline Kurbasik and Bettina Seifried, this book takes you back into cinema’s most fascinating era. Writing about Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and Jean Gabin, the Frenchman has nothing but praise for most of the celebrated actors, directors and especially actresses he worked with. However, Belmondo has not shied away either from revealing an Austrian starlet’s repulsive backstage behaviour.

Meine tausend Leben. Die Autobiografie
By Jean-Paul Belmondo
Published by Heyne (www.heyne.de)

The Village

A young woman flees the city after being hit by the news of her parents’ death.

Determined to find out more about their childhood, she has difficulties finding the town where they grew up. But her perseverance eventually pays off and she discovers a remote village governed by a countess.1.jpg

After a phase of frustration and bewilderment as Groß-Einland lacks cash machines, internet access and supermarkets, the physicist considers settling down there.

Raphaela Edelbauer’s “Das flüssige Land” is a compelling page-turner. This highly unusual concoction of mystery and comedy was on the shortlist of this year’s German Book Prize.

Das flüssige Land
By Raphaela Edelbauer
Published by Klett-Cotta (www.klett-cotta.de)

Suburban sadness

An Austrian illustrator has turned another Thomas Bernhard book into a graphic novel. The result is magnificent.1.jpg

Bernhard wanted to become a commercial apprentice in a suburb reeking of the stench of desperation. This was a highly unusual request for a young chap who could have gone to grammar school. But Bernhard longed for the monotony of a grocery store frequented by those who were living hand to mouth. War was just over but its aftermath still weighed heavily on people’s minds.

“Der Keller” is an intense experience. As in last year’s “Die Ursache”, Lukas Kummer has managed to convey the dark and pessimistic atmosphere of Bernhard’s autobiographical publications.

Der Keller
By Lukas Kummer
Published by Residenz Verlag (www.residenzverlag.at)

The Magnificent Seven

There have been very few favourable headlines about the German national football team recently. Media and fans mercilessly hit out at Die Mannschaft after their embarrassing performance at last year’s Euro.

Maybe this is the right moment to look back on what might have been their greatest achievement.

Structured as a real-time protocol, “7:1. Das Jahrhundertspiel” recounts the Germans’ triumphant victory over 2014 World Cup host nation Brazil.

Author Christian Eichler has created a true page-turner by considering many valuable side aspects of the most spectacular match in recent years – from a study of the antagonistic characters of team managers Luiz Felipe Scolari and Joachim Löw to investigating what it felt like to sit on the subs’ benches on this memorable night in Belo Horizonte.1

The sports journalist analyses why Brazil suffered such a horrific defeat. From the Neymar drama to the suspension of skipper Thiago Silva, you could have seen it coming. However, who would have thought that the Selecao disgrace themselves so badly against a German team that had to leave injured midfield maestros Marco Reus and Ilkay Gündogan at home?

Eichler has done a brilliant job recapturing the unique atmosphere at the Estadio Mineirao where Brazil’s fans could hardly believe their eyes as Germany upped the score at breakneck speed. Soon after Sami Khedira scored Germany’s fifth goal in the 29th minute, Selecao supporters started to aim their rage at their own team, especially clumsy striker Fred. Instead of booing the dominating opponents, they paid tribute to Mesut Özil and his teammates.

The match statistics eventually revealed a 13-12 shot-on-target lead of Brazil who also were in possession of the ball most of the time (52%). Nevertheless they suffered a once-in-a-lifetime defeat that heaped another pile of pain on a country divided over social injustice, underfunded hospitals and institutionalised corruption.

7:1. Das Jahrhundertspiel
By Christian Eichler
Published by Droemer (www.droemer-knaur.de)

Dear diary, what is wrong with me?

Heinz Strunk has most recently caused a stir in the book-selling charts with a contentious novel and a hilarious collection of short stories. Now the celebrated author has embarked on another genre.1.jpg

Strunk drew inspiration from the diaries of famed novelists as he created “Nach Notat zu Bett. Heinz Strunks Intimschatulle”. This thoroughly enjoyable array of oddities once more underlines the boundless artistic possibilities of the 57-year-old author. Fifteen years ago, his first book “Fleisch ist mein Gemüse” torpedoed Strunk straight into the hall of fame of contemporary literature. The novel’s follow-ups “Die Zunge Europas” and “Junge rettet Freund aus Teich” did not fail to disappoint readers and critics either.

Launched to great fanfare in 2016, “Der goldene Handschuh” also found unanimous acclaim among reviewers while the straightforward portrait of the repulsive actions of a serial killer put off many readers. In last year’s “Das Teemännchen”, the author, singer and actor investigated the vile core of the human soul with delightful precision.

Asked whether “Nach Notat zu Bett” was a non-fiction release, Strunk explained: “That bloke is an artist. He’s moaning all the time. I pretend that’s me. Actually, it’s mostly me.”

Nach Notat zu Bett. Heinz Strunks Intimschatulle
By Heinz Strunk
Published by Rowohlt (www.rowohlt.de)