A moving mother-daughter novel stretching across a century of European history.
by Ulrike Draesner
Penguin Germany, February 2023
A model Nazi mother who teaches others how to raise their children while refusing to speak of the great loss she has suffered; a cook travelling across Germany in the summer of 1945 who would rather make love to women than to her employer; a lawyer and single mother who unexpectedly inherits a flat in Wrocław and discovers a hitherto unknown Polish branch of her family – these women are all bound together by a century of war and post-war life, flight, expulsion and violence.
How do you write about what happens to women in wartime – the way their voices are taken from them, the way they are changed for ever, and the hidden forces that keep them going? In DIE VERWANDELTEN, Ulrike Draesner gives these women their voices back as they reinvent themselves, change language and country, and discover within themselves an unsuspected wellspring of courage, humour and strength. A devastating novel – moving, unsettling, tender and perceptive.
Ulrike Draesner, born in 1962, is a lyricist, novelist and essayist. She studied English, German and philosophy in Munich and in Oxford and has worked as an academic, translator and editor. She has published poetry collections, short story collections, and seven novels, and held visiting professor or poetics lectureship posts at Kiel, Birmingham, Bamberg, Wiesbaden, Hildesheim, at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig, and at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel. She spent the academic years 2015-16 and 2016-2017 as a Visiting Fellow at New College, Oxford and at the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. In 2018 Ulrike Draesner took up her post as a professor for German Literature and Creative Writing at the Deutsche Literaturinstitut Leipzig. Ulrike Draesner has received numerous awards for her work.