John von Düffel



318 pages

First day of sale: 05.06.2020
ISBN 978-3-8321-9834-3

A Novel, ca. 220 pp.
Spring 2017

“Over a hundred years after Hesse’s Beneath the Wheel and Musil’s The Confusions of Young Törless the genre of the teenage novel is enjoying a splendid resurrection.” - Oliver Pfohlmann, WDR 3

“John von Düffel [...] is simply a master storyteller, here too. It is wonderful how he finds and invents a different language for each of his characters. The dialogues do not pander to teenage jargon, are convincing it themselves, and allow the reader to get to know these nine students, each in their own highly individual, highly reflected way.” - Ursula May, HR 2 Kultur

“Some of these monologues are as strong as the finest short stories, with double meanings and observations that cut you to the quick.”

“Besides literary elegance, John von Düffel also shows his flair for empathy. Rather than just presenting his characters, he brings their various facets alive, in all their strangeness." - Christoph Schröder, Süddeutsche Zeitung

“He knows how to play the perfect author; in fact, he even succeeds in injecting the excessive over-confidence necessary into these self-centred texts to make them seem as embarrassing and precocious as real teenage outpourings.” - Florian Felix Weyh, DEUTSCHLANDFUNK

The novel about a class - and the book about a phase that affects all of us: puberty.

A literary time capsule: 19 young people trapped in a fleeting here and now.

After a long summer break, a 10th grade German class focuses on the fable by La Fontaine about the grasshopper and the ant. This assignment is presented through a mosaic of single voices, internal perspectives, short stories, dialogues, and portraits, which are each linked to a particular student - an attendance book of tales, an album of stories. There are 19 very different teenagers in Ms. Höppner’s class: half-children and premature adults, outsiders and geeks, truants and overachievers, kids at risk for suicide and anorexia, brown nosers and shrinking violets. Through the probing nature of singular perspectives, these stories are detached from the realm of teenager jargon and generational realism. We are introduced to an array of isolated, lonely minds, whose solitary worlds are linked by thematic associations and collective reactions to a common story, by the end of which one of the students is no longer there.

John von Düffel

John von Düffel was born in Göttingen in 1966. He currently works as a dramatic advisor for the German Theater Berlin, and is a professor for scenic writing at the University of the Arts Berlin. DuMont published his novels “Vom Wasser” (1998), “Zeit des Verschwindens” (2000), “Ego” (2001), “Houwelandt” (2004), “Beste Jahre” (2007), “Goethe ruft an” (2011), “KL – Gespräch über die Unsterblichkeit” (2015), „Klasssenbuch“ (2017), his collection of stories „Wassererzählungen“ (2014) as well as the essay “Wovon ich schreibe” (2009) and the novella “Hotel Angst” (2010). Among other awards, John von Düffel received the 2006 Nicolas Born Prize.