Nominated by:

Stadtbücherei Heidelberg, Germany

Leipziger Städtische Bibliotheken, Germany

Publisher of nominated edition:

Fitzcaraldo Editions, UK

Bricks and Mortar

Clemens Meyer    

Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire

Bricks and Mortar is the story of the sex trade in a big city in the former GDR, from just before 1989 to the present day, charting the development of the industry from absolute prohibition to full legality in the twenty years following the reunification of Germany. The focus is on the rise and fall of one man from football hooligan to large-scale landlord and service- provider for prostitutes to, ultimately, a man persecuted by those he once trusted. But we also hear other voices: many different women who work in prostitution, their clients, small-time gangsters, an ex-jockey searching for his drug-addict daughter, a businessman from the West, a girl forced into child prostitution, a detective, a pirate radio presenter…

In his most ambitious book to date, Clemens Meyer pays homage to modernist, East German and contemporary writers like Alfred Döblin, Wolfgang Hilbig and David Peace but uses his own style and almost hallucinatory techniques. Time shifts and stretches, people die and come to life again, and Meyer takes his characters seriously and challenges his readers in this dizzying eye-opening novel that also finds inspiration in the films of Russ Meyer, Takashi Miike, Gaspar Noé and David Lynch.

(from publisher)

About the author & translator

Clemens Meyer was born 1977 in Halle and lives in Leipzig. After high school he jobbed as a watchman, building worker and removal man. He studied creative writing at the German Literary Institute, Leipzig and was granted a scholarship by the Saxon Ministry of Science and Arts in 2002. His first novel, Als wir träumten, was a huge success and for his second book, Die Nacht, die Lichter, a collection of short stories, he was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2008. Bricks and Mortar, his latest novel, was shortlisted for the German Book Prize and was awarded the Bremer Literaturpreis 2014.

Katy Derbyshire was born in London and has lived in Berlin for the past twenty years. She translates contemporary German writers, including Simon Urban,Helene Hegemann, Inka Parei, Clemens Meyer, Jan Brandt, Felicitas Hoppe and many others. She writes occasional criticism and essays in English and German, published by Lithub, The Quarterly Conversation, Music & Literature, New Books in German and Der Tagesspiegel. Katy co-hosts a monthly literary translation lab in Berlin and has taught translation in London, Leipzig, New York, New Delhi and Norwich.

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