At last! We are there! The last 10 poets and writers you should read before you are 50. And without further ado here they are:
41. Stieg Larsson: His “Millenium Series” made the headlines after his death as his publisher gave David Lagercrantz the go ahead to finish the fourth book “That Which Does Not Kill”. It caused a controversy who has the right to the book or the series and I still have not read the fourth book. However, I do know the other three more known as “The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo series” and I just loved them. I just have a thing for kick-ass girls who do not give a damn about what people think. Wish I could be like that :-).
42. Friedrich Duerrenmatt: Now to two Swiss but German writing authors (if you do not know it: Switzerland has actually 4 official languages: German, Italian, French and Rhaetian) who have impressed me greatly in my youth. Friedrich Duerrenmatt is probably well known for his play “The Physicists” which asks the question how humankind is able to morally deal with scientific advancement. And this question is more pressing than ever. But he has also written some thought provoking novels like The Judge and his hangman and The Suspicion.
43. Max Frisch: Ah, so much to read so little time. If you are interested in Swiss authors but only have time for one author please choose Max Frisch. Especially his play “Andorra” which seems to be more important than ever as it deals with the use of stereotypes and how people choose to believe what they want as long as they find a scapegoat for their problems.
44. Christa Wolf: I suspect most of the younger generation are not aware that Germany for a very long time was like Korea parted in a communist part and a democratic part. Christa Wolf was one of the communist parts most famous writers who worked in her writings on topics like German fascism, feminism and humanism. If you are looking for an insight into Eastern Germany under STASI surveillance then choose her biography “What Remains” but if you are interested in new interpretations of old myths “Cassandra” and “Medeia” are just the right books for you.
45. Gabriele Wohmann: And if you want to know more about life in the western part of Germany at a similar time than that of Christ Wolf then try to find a translation of Gabriele Wohmann’s stories which are sad, touching and thought provoking at the same time.
46. Kurt Tucholski: You cannot understand Germany before and in WWII if you haven’t read any of Kurt Tucholski’s essays and/or novels. He was one of the most famous German Journalists in the Weimarer Republic and warned early about the anti democratic tendencies of Social Nationalism. But my favourite of his is a love story: Castle Gripsholm.
47. Albert Camus: Lately I have often thought both about Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre and their idea of an absurd universe and how to exist in it. To me his “The Myth of Sisyphus” sums up life: it’s entirely absurd but you need to make the best of it. And even if you do not believe in that sort of life philosophy. It certainly grows your horizon if you engage with his writing.
48. Erich Maria Remarque: It’s 2017 and the WWI is a hundred years past but the war to end all wars wasn’t successful. We just have to look at the US and North Korea, Russia and the Ukraine and the skirmishes in Africa. If you are not sure if war is a good means to solve conflicts then please read “Nothing New at the Western Front”. It certainly opens your eyes.
49. Italo Calvino: I do love to read a strange novel and Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Stranger” certainly falls into that category. Let’s get Wikipedia’s help: “The postmodernist narrative, in the form of a frame story, is about the reader trying to read a book called If on a winter’s night a traveller. Each chapter is divided into two sections. The first section of each chapter is in the second person, and describes the process the reader goes through to attempt to read the next chapter of the book he is reading. The second half is the first part of a new book that the reader (“you”) finds. The second half is always about something different from the previous ones and the ending is never explained. The book was published in an English translation by William Weaver in 1981.” Any questions? Do you want to challenge your reading habits? That book certainly helps you with it.
50. Erich Kaestner: I’ve started the list on Wednesday with children’s authors and I will end it with one whom you probably know as his “Lottie and Lisa” even if it is only the many film adaptions is world famous. I suspect any German child knows his mystery series “Emil and the Detectives” I, however, love his poems as well as the “grown-up” story “Three Men in the Snow” and his biography “When I was a little boy” which tells the story of his childhood in Dresden.
So, my dear readers. I let you go now on an adventure of reading and discovering authors from other languages and the great work that their translators do to bring their stories to you. Please do not worry that the stories and poems have lost their identity because translators are brilliant professionals who manage to catch every detail of meaning and words and you would miss out so much if you do not give these authors a try.