The Greatest German "Fiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

    The novel follows the story of Jacques Austerlitz, an architectural historian who was brought to England on a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia during World War II. As an adult, Jacques embarks on a journey to uncover his past, including his original identity, his parent's fate, and his own lost history. The narrative is a haunting exploration of memory, identity, and the lasting impact of the Holocaust.

  2. 2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, the novel follows the story of a young girl who finds solace in stealing books and sharing them with others. In the midst of the horrors of war, she forms a bond with a Jewish man her foster parents are hiding in their basement. The story is narrated by Death, offering a unique perspective on the atrocities and small acts of kindness during this period. The girl's love for books becomes a metaphor for resistance against the oppressive regime.

  3. 3. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

    "The Neverending Story" is a captivating fantasy novel that follows the adventures of a young boy named Bastian. When he stumbles upon a mysterious book, he becomes engrossed in the magical world of Fantastica, where he must embark on a perilous quest to save the realm from destruction. As Bastian's imagination intertwines with reality, he discovers the power of storytelling and the importance of believing in oneself. This enchanting tale explores themes of courage, friendship, and the boundless nature of imagination.

  4. 4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

    The book revolves around a young girl named Meggie and her father Mo, who possesses a unique ability to bring characters from books to life by reading aloud. This gift, however, comes with a price, as they are entangled in a dangerous adventure when a villain from a fantasy book called "Inkheart" is accidentally summoned into the real world. As they struggle to fix the chaos caused by this crossover, they must navigate a treacherous world of magic and betrayal, while attempting to thwart the villain's sinister plans and protect the balance between reality and the fantastical realms of literature.

  5. 5. The Swarm by Frank Schatzing

    "The Swarm" is a science fiction novel that explores the disastrous consequences of mankind's exploitation of the world's oceans. The narrative follows a group of scientists around the world as they try to understand a series of inexplicable, catastrophic natural disasters. They eventually discover that these events are not random but are the result of a collective intelligence in the sea, a swarm of marine life that has decided to fight back against humanity's destruction of their habitat. The book combines elements of ecological thriller, disaster novel, and speculative fiction as it explores the potential consequences of human interference with the natural world.

  6. 6. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

    "Measuring the World" is a historical novel that reimagines the lives of two brilliant and driven men, German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and German geographer Alexander von Humboldt. The narrative alternates between the two protagonists, exploring their individual quests to quantify and understand the world. Gauss, a child prodigy from a poor family, rises to become one of the greatest mathematicians in history, while Humboldt, a wealthy and ambitious explorer, embarks on a five-year journey across South America. Their paths converge in a humorous and touching manner, highlighting the contrast between their approaches to knowledge and discovery.

  7. 7. The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck

    "The Blind Side of the Heart" is a historical novel that explores the life of a German woman before, during, and after World War II. The story begins with her abandonment of her young son at a railway station, then flashes back to her own childhood, her experiences during the war, and her tumultuous relationships. The narrative provides a deep and unflinching look at the psychological effects of war and the struggle for survival, as well as the profound impact of trauma and loss.

  8. 8. Crabwalk by Günter Grass

    This novel delves into the tragic sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship, during World War II, through the eyes of a journalist investigating the event's historical and personal ramifications. The narrative weaves together past and present, exploring the intergenerational impact of the catastrophe on survivors and their descendants. The author employs a unique storytelling technique, the "crabwalk," moving backward and forward in time to reveal the complexities of guilt, memory, and the reinterpretation of history. Through its intricate plot and deep character exploration, the book addresses the themes of nationalism, the repercussions of war, and the struggle to come to terms with one's heritage.

  9. 9. Duck, Death And The Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

    "Duck, Death And The Tulip" is a poignant and thought-provoking illustrated book that explores the themes of life, death, and friendship. The story follows a duck who unexpectedly befriends Death, and together they embark on a journey of contemplation and acceptance. Through their conversations and experiences, the book delicately tackles the existential questions surrounding mortality, while offering a tender and comforting perspective on the inevitability of death.

  10. 10. The Invention Of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

    "The Invention of Nature" is a biographical account of Alexander von Humboldt, a 19th-century explorer, scientist, and naturalist who revolutionized the way we understand the natural world. Andrea Wulf chronicles Humboldt's travels across South America, his encounters with indigenous peoples, and his groundbreaking scientific discoveries that challenged prevailing notions of the natural world. Humboldt's ideas about interconnectedness and the unity of nature were ahead of their time and continue to influence environmentalism and conservation today. Wulf's book is a masterful exploration of one of history's most fascinating and influential figures.

  11. 11. Crime by Ferdinand Von Schirach

    "Crime" is a collection of short stories that explores the complexities of human behavior and the legal system. Each story presents a different crime and delves into the motivations and consequences behind it, challenging readers to question their own notions of justice and morality. With a keen eye for detail and a unique perspective, the author weaves together thought-provoking narratives that expose the intricacies of the human psyche and the flaws of the legal system.

  12. 12. The Hidden Word by Ulla Hahn

    "The Hidden Word" is a poignant coming-of-age novel set in post-war Germany, which follows the life of a young girl from a conservative, working-class family as she discovers the transformative power of language and literature. Struggling against the constraints of her rural, religious upbringing and the societal expectations placed upon women of her time, she seeks solace and freedom in the world of books. Her intellectual and emotional journey is marked by the tension between her burgeoning individuality and the traditional values she is expected to uphold, leading to a narrative rich in both personal growth and the exploration of the capacity of words to both conceal and reveal profound truths.

  13. 13. Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck

    "Visitation" is a novel that explores the history of a house located by a lake in Brandenburg, Germany, and the various inhabitants it has seen over the centuries. The narrative spans from the early 20th century to the post-war period, encompassing the tumultuous events of the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the German Democratic Republic. Each chapter is dedicated to a different resident's story, including a Jewish family, an architect, a young girl, and a Soviet officer, among others, creating a tapestry of human experiences and emotions shaped by the historical and political upheavals of the time.

  14. 14. The Collini Case by Ferdinand Von Schirach

    This gripping legal thriller delves into the complexities of the German legal system through the lens of a seemingly inexplicable murder case. When an elderly industrialist is found brutally murdered, the suspect, an Italian man with no apparent motive, confesses to the crime, sparking a sensational trial. The young defense attorney assigned to the case finds himself embroiled in a deep-seated legal conundrum that challenges his beliefs about justice and morality. As he delves deeper, he uncovers a dark chapter of German history that reveals the true motive behind the murder, forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about the past and its impact on the present. This novel is a compelling exploration of guilt, redemption, and the quest for justice in the shadow of historical atrocities.

  15. 15. The Tower by Uwe Tellkamp

    The novel is an intricate exploration of life in Dresden, East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, focusing on the lives of an aristocratic family. Through a detailed narrative, it delves into the complexities of living under a repressive regime, highlighting the struggles of the intellectual elite as they navigate censorship, surveillance, and the moral compromises required to maintain their status and beliefs. The story, rich in detail and character development, paints a vivid picture of a society on the brink of change, capturing the tension between personal ambition and political ideology.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download