Aug 242020
 

A new English translation by Christina Les of Kathrin Schmidt’s prize winning novel Du Stirbst Nicht is due to be published early in 2021.

Helene Wesendahl wakes from a post-aneuryism coma paralysed, speechless and devoid of memory. With each re-learned movement, remembered word and returned fragment of forgotten biography, a life comes to light that she scarcely recognises, confronting her with a strange woman who was once herself. Through the awakening heroine’s eyes, we observe her own body (which seems to lead a life of its own as it laboriously undergoes rehabilitation), her fellow-patients, nurses and doctors, the reactions of a complicated family, and the sacrificial commitment of her husband. Helene’s crisis deepens with the gradual realisation that, owing to a passion for a mysterious woman, she was intending to leave this man who now cares so much …

In 2002, halfway through her award-winning career as a writer, Kathrin Schmidt had a stroke and lost her language. You’re not dying is a tale of recovery based on true experience, all the more astonishing for its stylistically dazzling linguistic facility. ‘Kathrin Schmidt is back. Rejoice!’ Wrote Vladimir Balzer in Die Welt. The difficult experience of illness becomes added to Schmidt’s hallmark themes of love, the body, gender and genealogy, historiography and memory.

In 2009 You’re not dying was the triumphant winner of the German Book Prize, pipping to the post the recent Nobel Prize-winner Hertha Muller, who was also shortlisted. Schmidt’s writing career is littered with multiple prestigious prizes for both her poetry and prose.

Schmidt’s writings are framed by her politics. She co-edited a feminist journal in East Berlin in the early years of the united Germany, and represented the United Left faction at round-table discussions at the time of reunification. Before becoming a writer she trained as a psychologist.

• translated into 13 languages – now, at last, into English!
• voted Best Book by German radio & TV platform SWR

A haunting book. […] Kathrin Schmidt is back. We can rejoice! Vladimir Balzer, Die Welt

An outstanding, true novel Meike Fessmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung

a stylistically dazzling book Alexander Riebel, Die Tagespost

A great novel about illness, language and identity […] Kathrin Schmidt is one of the most important authors of her generation in Germany. Literaturen

…gets under your skin Helmut Böttiger, Die Zeit Online

Once again, Kathrin Schmidt proves to be a narrative virtuoso Der Spiegel Online

Breathtakingly accurate, Kathrin Schmidt paints the tedious path back into human existence. Neue Zürcher Zeitung

A compelling novel Michael Opitz, Deutschland Radio

a zinger, a humdinger, a fabulous shock of a novel Katie Derbyshire

More about Kathrin Schmidt