marzahn-mon-amour
2023 Winner

Marzahn, Mon Amour

Translated from the original German by Jo Heinrich
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

A woman approaching the invisible years of middle age abandons her failing writing career to retrain as a chiropodist in the suburb of Marzahn, once the GDRs largest prefabricated housing estate, on the outskirts of Berlin. From her intimate vantage point at the foot of the clinic chair, she keenly observes her clients and co-workers, delving into their personal histories with all their quirks and vulnerabilities. Each story stands alone as a beautifully crafted vignette, told with humour and poignancy; together they form a nuanced and tender portrait of a community. Part memoir, part collective history, Katja Oskamp’s love letter to the inhabitants of Marzahn is a stunning reflection on life’s progression and our ability to forge connections in the unlikeliest of places.

Comments from the Judges

“Man shall not live by feet alone.” This funny, thoughtful, heartfelt portrayal of a community is observed through the unusual perspective of the chiropodist kneeling at its feet. Our narrator is a woman who finds her career as a writer faltering, and decides to switch profession. “The middle years, when you’re neither young nor old,” she reflects, “are fuzzy years. You can no longer see the shore you started from, but you can’t yet get a clear enough view of the shore you’re heading for. You spend these years thrashing about in the middle of a big lake, out of breath, flagging from the tedium of swimming…” and so she turns to a new role as chiropodist in Marzahn, Berlin, where she finds herself listening intently to her clients. In these ostensibly mundane moments of care and conversation, she discovers that they each reveal something of themselves, their disappointments, their loves, their vulnerabilities, their rages, their joys. A sequence of portraits unfolds, in which each person who sits in the chiropodist’s chair is evoked with a gentle tenderness. As the novel progresses, we meet character after character as the narrator does, through their feet, and through this slow, deliberate culmination of vignettes, nimbly translated by Jo Heinrich, a greater portrait is achieved, that of how individuals are inevitably shaped by the ever-turning cogs of the machine of history. Readers, you’ve never read a book like this; expect to find yourself laughing aloud one moment, and deeply moved the next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Katja
Oskamp

Katja Oskamp was born in 1970 in Leipzig and grew up in Berlin. After completing her degree in theatre studies, she worked as a playwright at the Volkstheater Rostock and went on to study at the German Literature Institute. Her debut collection of stories, Halbschwimmer, was published in 2003. In 2007 she published her first novel, Die Staubfängerin. Marzahn, Mon Amour, published by Hanser with the subtitle ‘A Chiropodist’s Tales’, was selected for the ‘Berlin Reads One Book’ campaign and thus literally became the talk of the town. Marzahn, Mon Amour is her first work to be translated into English.

Katja Oskamp was born in 1970 in Leipzig and grew up in Berlin. After completing her degree in theatre studies, she worked as a playwright at the Volkstheater Rostock and went on to study at the German Literature Institute. Her debut collection of stories, Halbschwimmer, was published in 2003. In 2007 she published her first novel, Die Staubfängerin. Marzahn, Mon Amour, published by Hanser with the subtitle ‘A Chiropodist’s Tales’, was selected for the ‘Berlin Reads One Book’ campaign and thus literally became the talk of the town. Marzahn, Mon Amour is her first work to be translated into English.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Jo
Heinrich

Like the narrator in Marzahn, Mon Amour, Jo Heinrich found her ideal career in her middle years, and graduated in 2018 with a distinction in her MA in Translation from the University of Bristol. She was shortlisted for the 2020 Austrian Cultural Forum London Translation Prize and the 2019 John Dryden Translation Competition. She translates from French and German, and she lives just outside Bristol with her family. Marzahn, Mon Amour is her first literary translation.

Like the narrator in Marzahn, Mon Amour, Jo Heinrich found her ideal career in her middle years, and graduated in 2018 with a distinction in her MA in Translation from the University of Bristol. She was shortlisted for the 2020 Austrian Cultural Forum London Translation Prize and the 2019 John Dryden Translation Competition. She translates from French and German, and she lives just outside Bristol with her family. Marzahn, Mon Amour is her first literary translation.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

It is a book that allows a deep insight into the daily lives of the so called ordinary people. The author treats each of them with respect and approaches with careful empathy.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
17/02/2022
Country
Germany
Original Language
German
Author
Publisher
Peirene Press
Translator
Jo Heinrich
Translation
Translated from the original German by Jo Heinrich

RELATED FEATURES

News March 25 2024

Discover the 2024 Dublin Literary Award Shortlist

Discover which 6 books made it to the shortlist, one of world’s most valuable literary prizes!
News January 16 2024

2024 Longlist Revealed

Novels by four Irish authors are among the 70 books nominated by 80 libraries around the world!
News November 28 2023

2024 Dublin Literary Award Judges Announced

Meet our judging panel for 2024 Dublin Literary Award
Video June 2 2023

Highlights from the 2023 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

Katja Oskamp and translator Jo Heinrich win the prize for Marzahn, Mon Amour.

STAY CONNECTED

Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.