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The Ten Best Books on Berlin

The Ten Best Books on Berlin

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Published by Malcolm Burgess
Are these the best books on Europe's most haunting city? The editors of city-lit Berlin select their personal favourites.
Are these the best books on Europe's most haunting city? The editors of city-lit Berlin select their personal favourites.

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Published by: Malcolm Burgess on Jan 28, 2013
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05/30/2013

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THE TEN BEST BOOKS ON BERLIN1. Christopher Isherwood,
Goodbye to Berlin 
Christopher Isherwood’s compulsively readable short stories define the wild
and wicked Berlin between the wars
 –
 
and Hitler’s rise to power.
 
‘All along the Tauentzienstrasse, men,
women and boys are hawkingpostcards, flowers, song-books, hair-oil, bracelets. Christmas trees are
stacked for sale along the central path between the tramlines … In the side
-streets, lorry-loads of police are waiting; for any large crowd, nowadays, isc
apable of turning into a political riot.’
2. Alfred Döblin,
Berlin Alexanderplatz 
 As Franz Biberkopf leaves Tegel Prison he vows to lead a decent life on thegrimy streets of Weimar Berlin in one of the greatest German novels of thetwentieth century.
‘On the Alexanderplatz they are tearing up the road
-bed for the underground.People walk on planks. The tram-cars pass over the square up
 Alexanderstrasse through Münzsreasse to the Rosenthaler Tor … House
follows house along the streets. They are full of men and women from cellar 
to garrett.’
 
3. Cees Nooteboom,
 All Souls’ Day 
 
 As the Millenium approaches, Arthur Daane is in a wintery Berlin trying topiece together his life in this extraordinary and atmospheric novel of the city,past and present.
‘At
the corner of Savignyplatz he was almost blown off his feet by a suddensnow flurry. This was getting serious. A continental climate. Another reasonhe liked Berlin. It always made him feel he was in the middle of a vast plainstretching deep into the hea
rt of Russia.’
 
4. Thomas Brussig,
Heroes Like Us 
The riotous and laugh-aloud novel about Klaus Uhltzscht, the aspiringteenage Nobel laureate of East Berlin, who claims to be the man whobreached the Berlin Wall.
‘She lived in Isländische Strasse, a
side-street running off Bornholmer Strasse. Yes,
that 
Bornholmer Strasse, the one with the checkpoint at the far 
 
end. Milling around in front of it were members of the so-
called masses …andconfronting them were a few border guards’
 
5. Chloe Aridjis,
Book of Clouds 
Chloe Aridjis’s beautifully evocative novel set in today’s Berlin, as a young
woman flees her family only to find a city that cannot escape its past.
‘We walked down Unter den Linden, the trees atwinkle with white holiday
lights, and past the
regally lit Brandenburg Gate … then turned left before
arriving at a sea of upright concrete slabs, which I recognized immediately as
the new Holocaust memorial.’
 
6. Philip Kerr,
A German Requiem 
Freelance detective Bernie Gunther works on the mean streets of 1930sBerlin, where Nazi excesses are never far from the surface.
This morning at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Jagerstrasse, I saw twomen, SA men, unscrewing a red Der Sturmer showcase from the wall of abuilding. Der Sturmer is the anti-
Semitic journal that’s run by the Reich’s
leading Jew-
hater, Julius Streicher.’
 
7. Ian McEwan,
The Innocent 
 After England, the Cold War Berlin of 1955 is like no place young engineer Leonard Markham has ever experienced: surreal, complex and dangerous.
‘Almost too soon he was on Adalbertstrasse … There were apartment blocks
with façades drilled by small arms fire, especially round the doors andwindows. Every second or third building had a gutted interior, and was withoutits roof. Whole structures had collapsed and the rubble lay where it had
fallen.’
8. Hans Fallada,
Alone in Berlin 
In 1940, in the heart of Hitler’s capital, Otto and Anna Quangel are alone inBerlin with a breathtaking campaign of resistance …
 
‘The postwoman Eva Kluge slowly clim
bs the steps of 55 Jablonski Strasse.
She’s tired from her round, but she also has one of those letters in the bag
that she hates to deliver, and is about to have to deliver, to the Quangels, on
the second floor.’
 

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