Germany’s Bestselling Novels of 2015

In Europe by Hannah Johnson

The bestselling novels in Germany in 2015 were diverse, from children’s to crime, new voices to established authors, with plenty of translations in the mix.

By Hannah Johnson

gregs tagebuch 10 so ein mist jeff kinneyThe bestselling work of fiction in Germany in 2015 was Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 10, according to a comprehensive look at the bestselling novels in Germany in 2015 published by The Boersenblatt trade magazine. The bestselling novel originally written in German was Old Land (Altes Land) by Dörte Hansen.

While there was no single title that outpaced all others on the bestseller lists this year, the Boersenblatt points out that this left room for more titles to shine. Using data from market research company GfK Entertainment, The Boersenblatt was able to take a closer look at the diverse list of top books and publishers of the year.

Of the top five bestselling novels of 2015 in Germany, just one was originally written in German (13 of the top 25 bestsellers were translations):

  1. Jeff Kinney: Gregs Tagebuch 10 – So ein Mist! (Baumhaus Medien)
  2. Jojo Moyes: Ein ganz neues Leben (Wunderlich)
  3. Paula Hawkins: Girl on the Train – Du kennst sie nicht, aber sie kennt dich. (Blanvalet)
  4. Michel Houellebecq: Unterwerfung (DuMont)
  5. Dörte Hansen: Altes Land (Knaus)

Publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch, part of the Holtzbrinck Group, had the most books on the fiction bestseller list this year (10 titles), led by Jean-Luc Bannalec’s crime novel Breton Pride (Bretonischer Stolz) which sold around 350,000 copies and took sixth place on the overall fiction bestseller list. Other titles from K&W on the list include The Protecting Hand (Die schützende Hand) by Wolfgang Schorlau and Concert Without a Poet (Konzert ohne Dichter) by Klaus Modick.

Without a major bestseller dominating sales, independent publishers made plenty of appearances on the fiction bestseller list in 2015. Diogenes led the independent pack with eight fiction bestsellers in 2015, including Montecristo by crime writer Martin Suter.

Independent publisher Mattes & Seitz made the list with Frank Witzel’s German Book Prize-winner, The Invention of the Red Army Faction (Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion). Steidel Verlag had bestseller success with On Finiteness (Vonne Endlichkait), the last book written by Günter Grass.

Read the full list here (in German) and see below for more info about some of the books on the list.


altes land doerte hansenAltes Land (Old Land) by Dörte Hansen (Knaus Verlag / Random House)

From the publisher: “Five-year-old Vera has fled from East Prussia to the North German region Old Country with her mother in 1945. They find refuge in an old farmhouse. But for the whole of her life Vera has never felt at home in the big, chilly house, yet she cannot bring herself to abandon it. Then, sixty years later, her niece, Anne, suddenly appears at her front door. She has fled with her little son from a suburb in Hamburg, where ambitious wholefood parents carry their kids through the streets like trophies – and where Anne’s husband loves another woman. Vera and Anne are alien to each other and yet they have more in common than they realise.”

Selected by new books in german, with translation funding available.

Rights contact: Gesche Wendebourg, Foreign Rights Director, Verlagsgruppe Random House, gesche.wendebourg@randomhouse.de


breton pride jean luc bannalecBretonischer Stolz (Breton Pride) by Jean-Luc Bannalec (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)

From the publisher: “In the scenic village of Belon, between cliffs, magical forests and the Atlantic, the place where the world’s most famous oysters are farmed, a body is discovered. But by the time the police arrive on the scene, the body has vanished. Only a deranged old film diva is convinced she has seen it. Not long after, in Monts d’Arrée, a place steeped in legends about fairies and the devil, another body is reported. Fortunately, this one is still there when Inspector Dupin and his colleagues arrive. When it becomes clear that the evidence goes back to neighbouring Celtic countries and Breton druid cults and when, to top it all, Dupin has to do without one of his inspectors, who has been accused of organised sand robbery, the Inspector suspects this might be one of his most bizarre cases.”

Rights contact: Iris Brandt, Rights Director, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, ibrandt@kiwi-verlag.de


montecristo martin suterMontecristo by Martin Suter (Diogenes Verlag)

From the publisher: “Jonas Brand has no idea about the adventure that awaits him, when the intercity train comes to an abrupt halt. The train is unable to continue because of a dead body on the tracks. Brand immediately shoulders his camera, records the nightmarish events and interviews his fellow passengers. He is a freelance journalist, but one who dreams of bigger things … Just three months later, fate deals him another bizarre card: two one-hundred Swiss Franc notes with identical serial numbers – both of which, as the bank confirms with amazement, are genuine. Then Brand’s apartment is ransacked and he gets beaten up and robbed in broad daylight. Someone clearly wants to throw him off the track that he is just about to embark on.”

Selected by new books in german, with translation funding available.

Rights contact: Susanne Bauknecht, Subsidiary and translation rights, bau@diogenes.ch


WitzelThe Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969 (Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969) by Frank Witzel (Matthes & Seitz Berlin)

From the publisher: “The RAF is the most traumatic and shocking period in the history of pots-war Germany. This eminent novel — comparable to David Foster Wallace’s work — brings to life, through the eyes of a 13-year-old, the foundation of a youth gang with his friends Bernd and Claudia. Without knowing what they are about to start, they call themselves Red Army Faction. Decades later the narrator’s girlfriend brings him to an asylum because he is about to lose touch with the real world. Memories of post-war Germany, a hunch of German Autumn and meditations of the present carry the narrator far away from his environment. He must not only face his own absurdities but also gets interrogated by a police officer who can’t quite believe that Red Army Faction was nothing but an invention.”

Winner of the 2015 German Book Prize. Selected by new books in german, translation funding available.

Rights contact: Richard Stoiber, Foreign Rights, r.stoiber@matthes-seitz-berlin.de

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.