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1000 Coils of Fear

The German Book Prize, 2020

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349701998

Price: £16.99

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‘I have more privilege than any person in my family. And I’m still screwed.’ From award-winning author Olivia Wenzel comes a captivating and unsettling literary debut about race, politics, feminism, motherhood, nationality and enduring love.

A young woman attends a play about the Berlin Wall coming down and is the only Black person in the audience. She is sitting with her boyfriend by a bathing lake and sees four neo-Nazis approaching. In New York, she witnessed Trump’s election victory in a strange hotel room.

Angry and passionate, the narrator looks at our rapidly changing times and also tells the story of her family: her mother, who was a punk in East Germany and never had the freedom she dreamed of, her absent Angolan father and her twin brother, who died when they were seventeen.

Emotional and funny, Olivia Wenzel writes about loneliness and finding joy in life within the roles that society assigns you. 1000 Coils of Fear is a highly original novel both powerfully poetic and full of surprises.

What readers are saying about Olivia Wenzel:

‘Opens your eyes about what it means to be different… This book is a must.’ Reader review, 5 stars

Captivating… She doesn’t hide anything, that’s the lasting impression of this impressive, relentless, tender novel.’ Faz

Ingenious… I can only highly recommend the novel to you.’ Reader review, 5 stars

‘No other German-language novel describes so impressively how Germany can often feel for marginalised people.’ ND Aktuell

‘Arguably last year’s best German novel.’ Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Always exciting and even entertaining.’ SWR2

Everyone should read this book… One of the best books of 2020.’ Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Funny, despite the dark foundation… The work of an author who admirably stubbornly confronts her traumas.’ Woz


Impressive, relentless, tender
This book is a must
Reader review
A strong debut, a touching family story
rbb Kultur
German musician, performer, and playwright Wenzel makes an auspicious fiction debut . . . A prismatic novel, thoughtful and unsettling
Kirkus Reviews
Wenzel debuts with a powerful portrait of a woman finding, losing, and rediscovering herself in 21st-century Germany . . . Her simple but affecting story is told through scattered memories and personal histories . . Captivating . . . An exciting, confident debut
Publishers Weekly