LitHaus: A Goethe Pop-Up Houston Reading List

Brazos Bookstore is excited to partner with the Goethe-Institut's Houston pop-up for a year of cultural events in our city.

The Goethe Pop Up Houston presents LitHAUS, a monthly reading series for contemporary German literature. Each month’s selection will be accompanied by a talk or discussion around the work and its wider themes. Reading the work is encouraged but not required. Everyone is welcome to join in! Find more information about Goethe Pop Up Houston here.

Memoirs of a Polar Bear Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811225786
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 8th, 2016

Memoirs of a Polar Bear stars three generations of talented writers and performers. Famous stars of the literary world, the circus, and the zoo, they happen to be polar bears who move human society. In part one, the matriarch, enjoying “the intimacy of being alone with my pen,” accidentally writes a bestselling autobiography in the Soviet Union. In part two, her daughter Tosca moves to East Germany and pioneers a thrilling circus act. And Tosca’s son—the last of their line—is Knut, born in part three and raised by a human keeper in relatively happy circumstances in the Berlin zoo.


Before the Feast Cover Image
By Sasa Stanisic, Anthea Bell (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941040393
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - June 14th, 2016

It’s the evening before the feast in the village of Fürstenfelde. The village is asleep. Except for the ferryman—he’s dead. And Mrs. Kranz, the night-blind painter, who wants to depict her village for the first time at night. A bell-ringer and his apprentice want to ring the bells—the only problem is that the bells have gone. A vixen is looking for eggs for her young, and Mr. Schramm is discovering more reasons to quit life than to quit smoking. Someone has opened the doors to the Village Archive, but what drives the sleepless out of their houses is not that which was stolen, but that which has escaped. Old stories, myths, and fairy tales are wandering about the streets with the people. They come together in a novel about a long night, a mosaic of village life, in which the long-established and newcomers, the dead and the living, craftsmen, pensioners, and noble robbers in football jerseys bump into one another. They all want to bring something to a close, on this night before the feast.


Bricks and Mortar Cover Image
By Clemens Meyer, Katy Derbyshire (Translator)
$25.00
ISBN: 9781910695197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fitzcarraldo Editions - May 8th, 2018

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…


The Fox and Dr. Shimamura Cover Image
By Christine Wunnicke, Philip Boehm (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811226240
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - April 30th, 2019

The Fox and Dr. Shimamura toothsomely encompasses Japan and Europe, memory and actuality, fox-possession myths and psychiatric mythmaking. The novel begins near the story’s end, in Dr. Shimamura’s retirement. A feverish invalid, he’s watched over by four women: his wife, his mother, his mother-in- law, and a nurse (originally one of his psychiatric patients). As an outstanding young Japanese medical student at the end of the nineteenth century, Dr. Shimamura is sent—to his dismay—to the provinces: he is asked to cure scores of young women of an epidemic of fox possession. He considers the assignment a joke, believing it’s all a hoax, until he sees a fox moving under the skin of a beauty. He comes to believe not just in fox possession, but also that he in fact “cured” the young woman with a kiss, by breathing in the fox demon (the root of his lifelong fever). Next he travels to Europe and works with such luminaries as Charcot, Breuer and (briefly) Freud himself.


All Russians Love Birch Trees: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590515846
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Other Press - January 7th, 2014

Set in Frankfurt, All Russians Love Birch Trees follows a young immigrant named Masha. Fluent in five languages and able to get by in several others, Masha lives with her boyfriend, Elias. Her best friends are Muslims struggling to obtain residence permits, and her parents rarely leave the house except to compare gas prices. Masha has nearly completed her studies to become an interpreter, when suddenly Elias is hospitalized after a serious soccer injury and dies, forcing her to question a past that has haunted her for years. With cool irony, Grjasnowa’s debut novel tells the story of a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is immaterial—her Jewish background has taught her she can survive anywhere. Yet Masha isn’t equipped to deal with grief, and this all-too-normal shortcoming gives a particularly bittersweet quality to her adventures.


River Cover Image
By Esther Kinsky, Iain Galbraith (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781945492174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - September 4th, 2018

A woman moves to a London suburb near the River Lea, without knowing quite why or for how long. Over a series of long, solitary walks she reminisces about the rivers she has encountered during her life, from the Rhine, her childhood river, to the Saint Lawrence, and a stream in Tel Aviv. Filled with poignancy and poetic observation, River is an ode to nature, edgelands, and the transience of all things human.


Sand Cover Image
By Wolfgang Herrndorf, Tim Mohr (Translated by), Michael Maar (Afterword by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781681372013
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - June 12th, 2018

North Africa, 1972. While the world is reeling from the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, a series of mysterious events is playing out in the Sahara. Four people are murdered in a hippie commune, a suitcase full of money disappears, and a pair of unenthusiastic detectives are assigned to investigate. In the midst of it all, a man with no memory tries to evade his armed pursuers. Who are they? What do they want from him? If he could just recall his own identity he might have a chance of working it out. . . .


I Called Him Necktie Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781939931146
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: New Vessel Press - September 9th, 2014

Twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro has spent the last two years of his life living as a hikikomori—a shut-in who never leaves his room and has no human interaction—in his parents’ home in Tokyo. As Hiro tentatively decides to reenter the world, he spends his days observing life around him from a park bench. Gradually he makes friends with Ohara Tetsu, a middle-aged salaryman who has lost his job but can’t bring himself to tell his wife, and shows up every day in a suit and tie to pass the time on a nearby bench. As Hiro and Tetsu cautiously open up to each other, they discover in their sadness a common bond. Regrets and disappointments, as well as hopes and dreams, come to the surface until both find the strength to somehow give a new start to their lives.


Go, Went, Gone Cover Image
By Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811225946
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 26th, 2017

Go, Went, Gone tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns into compassion and an inner transformation as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes.


My Father Was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water Cover Image
By Michelle Steinbeck, Jen Calleja (Translator)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781850773184
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Darf Publishers - October 18th, 2018

A child attacks Loribeth with an iron while she is sleeping. In retaliation Loribeth throws the iron onto the child from an upstairs window, packs the damaged body into a suitcase and sets off on her travels. Thus starts Steinbeck’s unusual, poetic novella about a young woman’s transition from childhood to adulthood. Loribeth and her suitcase begin an odyssey through nightmarish locations in search of her absent father. What ensues is a Freudian adult fairytale.


The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine Cover Image
By Alina Bronsky, Tim Mohr (Translated by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9781609450069
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Europa Editions - April 26th, 2011

Rosa Achmetowna is the outrageously nasty and wily narrator of this rollicking family saga. When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, “stupid Sulfia,” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.


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