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This report is taken from PN Review 62, Volume 14 Number 6, July - August 1988.

Letter from Germany Michael Hulse
In the eighteen months since I last reported on current German fiction (in PNR 51) I have often felt that the centre of imaginative vitality seems finally to have shifted. Dürrenmatt's Justiz [Diogenes, 1985] might better have been left in its forgotten drawer, Die Rättin [Luchterhand, 1986 - see PNR 54 and 55] showed Grass rehashing himself, and Luise Rinser was disappointingly below par in her recent stories (Geschichten aus der Löwengrube, Fischer, 1986) and novel (Silber Schuld, Fischer, 1987). The most compelling new fiction has come from writers who, though established, do not yet have quite such glossy laurels to rest on. The best of them - Monika Maron, Libuše Moníková, André Kaminski, Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch, Peter Härtling, Brigitte Kronauer - are beginning to be available in English translation, and theirs are the names (with Patrick Süskind, Elfriede Jelinek and a handful of others) that will be at the centre of German writing as the century closes. In this Letter and the next I shall present a personal choice of the most striking recent fiction, dividing the two reports (less to please contemporary orthodoxy than for my own convenience) by gender. First the men.

It seems best to deal with the big disappointment right away. Everyone was waiting to see what Patrick Süskind would do next. When I reported on his magnificently-conceived and persuasively-achieved first novel Das Parfum in PNR 51, the English translation was just entering the British and American shops; in the mean time, worldwide sales ...


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