Nominated by:

Stadtbibliothek Bremen, Germany

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

Back to Back

Julia Franck      

Translated from the original German by Anthea Bell

2015 Longlist

The moving story of a brother and a sister caught in the tide of the Cold War

Käthe is a Jewish sculptor living in East Berlin. A survivor of the Nazi era, she is a fervent socialist who has been using her political connections to secure more significant commissions. Devoted entirely to success, she is a cruel and abrasive mother to her children. Käthe barely acknowledges Ella’s vulnerable loneliness and Thomas’s quiet aspirations, and her hard-nosed brutality forces her children to build an imaginary world as a shelter from the coldness that surrounds them. But the siblings find themselves enclosed by the Berlin Wall, and unable to pursue their dreams.

Heartbreaking and shocking, Back to Back is a dark fairytale of East Germany – a moving personal story of love, betrayal and disillusionment within a single family that reflects the greater tragedy of the world around them.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Julia Franck was born in Berlin in 1970. Her novel The Blind Side of the Heart won the German Book Prize and sold over a million copies in Germany alone. It was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Guardian and US magazine Kirkus Reviews. Back to Back is her second novel to be translated into English. She lives in Berlin.

Librarian’s Comments

Julia Franck’s latest novel focuses on her grandmother, sculptor Indgborg Hunzinger, who fled from the Nazis to Italy. Agter the war she decided to live in the communist part of Germany where her children Ella and Thomas grew up. The siblings were left to themselves and the emotional coldness and violence left their traces. A family history that reflects life in the era of the cold war. Following her critically acclaimed novel The Blind Side of the Heart, this is Julia Franck’s second novel translated into English.

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