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Star 111

Star 111

by Lutz Seiler, translated from the German by Tess Lewis

Regular price $19.95
Regular price Sale price $19.95
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Star 111 (the name of a popular East German transistor radio) begins with the world turned upside down. It is the fall of 1989. The communist government of the GDR is losing its grip on power. Carl Bischoff, a very young man, trained as a bricklayer, now a college student, is abruptly recalled by his parents to the small town in the middle of nowhere where he grew up. His hardworking unprotesting parents inform him, that with the border open, they intend to leave the country and check into a West German refugee camp. Will Carl to look after the house and take in the mail? They promise at some point to be in touch.
Deserted by his parents, Carl has no idea what to do. Then he packs the family car and heads to Berlin, where he joins a group of squatters led by a shepherd with a goat. Carl participates in the anarchic life of an anarchist commune, and keeps his distance too. He has all sorts of things to learn about himself and others. He is hungry for sex and love and sometimes simply hungry. He worries about his parents. He wants to be a poet.  
Star 111 is a story about unforeseen ends and new beginnings, about different kinds of families, biological and improvised, and one innocent young aspiring poet in pursuit of experience at a moment in history when everything is about to change and nobody knows how. A tender, entrancing, and comic tale of youth and adventure, it is a book that looks back on the history of our time to ask the most fundamental of questions: what does it mean to lead a good life? 

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681378534
Pages: 496
Publication Date:


A rich, vivid tale about new beginnings and fractured utopias.
—Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times "A Best Book of 2023, Fiction in Translation (UK Edition)

The fragmentary style of Star 111 recalls much of the later work of Grass [...] The great ingenuity of Seiler’s narrative lies in the displacement that it effects between Carl’s exploits and those of his distant parents, from whom he receives regular letters written in a floridly formal style.
—Stuart Walton, The Hong Kong Review of Books

The author’s shimmering, ironic and musical prose—impeccably translated by Tess Lewis—captures a moment both archaic and profoundly real. Utopian and matter-of-fact, it is both timeless and obsessed with the minutiae of its time.
—Karen Leeder, Times Literary Supplement

There aren’t many books that can be cited as the missing link between Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries and Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, and still fewer that could live up to the comparison, but Lutz Seiler (with impeccable assistance from Tess Lewis) makes it look easy. Star 111 is a brilliant, immersive, sometimes funny, slyly moving book with a main character who walks through the new reality he finds himself in like an astronaut exploring alone beneath a strange, harsh, beautiful sun. A stellar achievement.
—Will Ashon

It took Lutz Seiler, born in East Germany, thirty years to give to the moment [of the Fall of the Berlin Wall] the full richness of fertile and ambiguous human experience. With its ample narrative and powerful imagination, Star 111 is the Wenderoman par excellence, the great novel of the turn, as German reunification is called.
—Christine Lecerf, Le Monde des livres

Lutz Seiler talks about a city and a time that seemed to have been exhausted in fiction. But he creates a new fascination.
—Jona Nietfeld, Der Tagesspiegel

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