Writing the New Berlin

Writing the New Berlin

The German Capital in Post-Wall Literature

Katharina Gerstenberger


Camden House



A study of the "patchwork imaginary" that is postwall Berlin fiction and its significance for the new Germany.
The wall was still coming down when critics began to call for the great Berlin novel that could explain what was happening to Germany and the Germans. Such a novel never appeared. Instead, writers have created a patchwork imaginary -- in the form of about 300 works of fiction set in Berlin -- of a city and a nation whose identity collapsed virtually overnight. Contributors to this literary collage include established writers like Peter Schneider and Christa Wolf, young authors like Tanja Dückers and Ingo Schramm, German-Turkish authors Zafer Senocak and Yadé Kara, and the Austrians Kathrin Röggla and Marlene Streeruwitz. The non-arrival of the great Berlin novel marks the reorientation in German culture and literature that is the focus of this study: the experience of unification was too diverse, too postmodern, too influenced by global developments to be captured by one novel. Berlin literature of the postunification decade is marked by ambiguity: change is linked to questions of historical continuity; postmodern simulation finds its counterpart in a quest for authenticity; and the assimilation of Germanness into European and global contexts is both liberation and loss. This book pursues a nuanced understanding of the search for new ways to tell the story of Germany's past and of its importance for the formation of a new German identity.

Katharina Gerstenberger is Associate Professor of German at the University of Cincinnati.


220 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Hardback, 9781571133816, July 2008
Paperback, 9781571135131, July 2011
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, HIS014000, HIS054000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Newness and its Discontents: Berlin Literature in the 1990s and Beyond
Erotic Sites: Sexual Topographies after the Wall
Bodies and Borders: The Monsters of Berlin
Multicultural Germans and Jews of Many Cultures: Imagining "Jewish Berlin"
Goodbye to East Berlin
Looking for Perspectives: The Construction at Potsdamer Platz


Impressive, both in the scope of works analysed and in the variety of approaches employed.... Writing the New Berlin is both crucial and timely. MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES

This is a useful volume which will be widely read. Gerstenberger writes engagingly and with ease, and she knows her material well. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES

For anyone with an interest in contemporary German literature, or in Berlin, ... Gerstenberger's study is a necessary starting point. MONATSHEFTE

An extremely valuable contribution to scholarship about most recent German literature and Germans after unification. FOCUS ON GERMAN STUDIES

A true gem for students and scholars who venture beyond the introduction to follow Gerstenberger's detailed analyses and thoughtful insights. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

(Gerstenberger) indicates that the genuine fascination and value of the literature of the two decades after the Wende lies in the richness of its multi-faceted reflections of an extraordinary moment in the life of this remarkable city. DEUTSCH: LEHREN UND LERNEN

Author Bio

Katharina Gerstenberger is associate professor of German at the University of Cincinatti.

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