Sulzer, Alain Claude. Aus den Fugen: Roman (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2012)

The Swiss writer Sulzer's novel Aus den Fugen focuses around a performance by a concert pianist of Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata that breaks off midway. Refusing the drive to resolution that musicologists have described in Beethoven's music, the novel also shows characters' identities and relationships being challenged and reformulated around this moment of musical incompletion. Its interest … Continue reading Sulzer, Alain Claude. Aus den Fugen: Roman (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2012)

Keun, Irmgard. Das kunstseidene Mädchen (1932; repr. Munich: DTV, 1995)

Keun's Berlin novel is one of the best for exploring gender, sexuality and social change in Berlin of the 1920s and early 1930s. Her protagonist's first-person narration draws on modernism and the inner monologue and investigates her unsettled relationship to herself and to the promise of the city. The novel explores the precarity of many … Continue reading Keun, Irmgard. Das kunstseidene Mädchen (1932; repr. Munich: DTV, 1995)

Opitz, Detlef. ‘LUST/IG. eine landschaft’, in Idylle: Erzählungen und andere Texte (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1990)

Opitz's text is often overlooked in courses on gender and sexuality in the GDR, but this short narrative is excellent for approaching questions of coming-of-age, standards of masculinity and desires between men in the context of the late GDR. Set near the inner-German border, the story relates boundaries of behaviour to the geopolitical boundary, while … Continue reading Opitz, Detlef. ‘LUST/IG. eine landschaft’, in Idylle: Erzählungen und andere Texte (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1990)

Akın, Fatih (dir.). Im Juli (Universum, 2000)

Fatih Akın's second major film is a road movie that takes its protagonists across Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe from Germany to Turkey, as the naive, lovestruck Daniel goes in search of Melek, a woman he met at a party and is convinced is 'the one'. The film explores the myths and fantasies associated with Easternness … Continue reading Akın, Fatih (dir.). Im Juli (Universum, 2000)

Zaimoglu, Feridun. German Amok (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2002)

Zaimoglu is perhaps better known for his debut work Kanak Sprak (1995) and the Kanak Attack movement that it inspired. German Amok continues Zaimoglu's interest in masculinity and in the relationship between subcultures and the mainstream in contemporary German society. It follows an artist narrator through his sardonic and scathing critique of the German arts scene, even as … Continue reading Zaimoglu, Feridun. German Amok (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2002)

Strubel, Antje Rávic. Unter Schnee (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2001)

Strubel is one of my all time favourites. Her novels probe issues of gender diversity and sexuality that go beyond binaries of male/female or gay/straight. This episodic novel could be placed alongside Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys to discuss the influence of the short story form, or it could be placed along other novels that explore post-reunification … Continue reading Strubel, Antje Rávic. Unter Schnee (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2001)

Nadj Abonji, Melinda, Tauben fliegen auf (2010)

The winner of the 2010 Deutscher Buchpreis, Nadj Abonji’s novel is an exploration of transnational experience based in part on the author’s own biography. Focussed on the experiences of first-person narrator Ildiko Kocsis and set against the difficulties faced by migrants to be accepted in contemporary swiss society, Nadj Abonji’s texts explores the lingering presence … Continue reading Nadj Abonji, Melinda, Tauben fliegen auf (2010)

Camenisch, Arno, Hinter dem Bahnhof (2010)

Part of Camenisch’s award-winning Bündner Trilogie (the third volume, Ustrinkata, won the Eidgenössische Literaturpreis in 2012) is an exploration of language and contemporary subjectivity. Camenisch weaves Standard German, Alemannic dialect and his native Romansch throughout this text to create a dense multilingual fabric. Told from the perspective of a young child living ‘behind the station’, … Continue reading Camenisch, Arno, Hinter dem Bahnhof (2010)

Oswald, Richard (dir.). Anders als die Andern (Oswald-Film, 1919)

Richard Oswald's 'Aufklärungsfilm' was one of the first films in the world to deal with the subject of homosexuality, and also is an important film in the history of trans and intersex identities. It features the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, who also consulted on the film. The film's reception history enables a discussion of censorship mechanisms … Continue reading Oswald, Richard (dir.). Anders als die Andern (Oswald-Film, 1919)