Ferdinand von Schirach, Punishment, trans. from the German by Katharina Hall, Baskerville 2022
First line: Katharina was raised in the Upper Black Forest.
Well, this isn’t your standard Mrs. Peabody review, because for the first time in eleven years of blogging I’m the translator of the featured book! So here’s a bit about this bestselling German author and his work, followed by details of a scrumptious Punishment Publication Giveaway!
Some of you may already have read works by German defence-lawyer-turned-writer Ferdinand von Schirach. He came to prominence in the English-speaking world with his debut novel The Collini Case (tr. Anthea Bell), a gripping page-turner that asked some big legal and ethical questions of post-war Germany.
Alongside other novels, plays and TV dramas, von Schirach has also published three collections of crime stories, the latest of which is Punishment. I’ve always had a soft spot for von Schirach’s short stories, which (to a greater or lesser degree) draw on his own experiences and observations of the German justice system. He’s a master of the form, creating punchy tales based on fascinating premises and scenarios.
Punishment features 12 stories, 12 crimes, 12 punishments, each of which raises complex questions about morality, justice, and what it means to be human in extremis – whether you’re a young woman, defence lawyer, bereaved mother, lonely widower, school boy, supermarket manager, disgruntled wife or simply a devoted friend. By turns hard-hitting, moving and darkly humorous, these stories and fates will stay with you for a long time to come.
Six of the stories have just been adapted for TV by German channel RTL, and premiered at this year’s CANNESSERIES festival. These stills will give you a flavour…
And here are a couple of snippets from Christian House’s recent review of Punishment in the Financial Times ‘Best Books of the Week’ section:
I’m delighted the reviewer chose to highlight the humour of this particular story, as I think von Schirach’s talent for deadpan comedy often gets overlooked!
There’s also a lovely vlog review by Victoria Heldt – it’s a 10/10 from her…
AND NOW TO OUR PUNISHMENT GIVEAWAY…
To celebrate the publication of Punishment, Mrs. Peabody has three copies of the book to give away! If you are in the UK and would like to enter, just answer the following question in the comments below: what was the title of Ferdinand von Schirach’s debut novel?
The draw will take place on Saturday 27 August and winners will be contacted directly. Good luck! Viel Glück!
Finally, for those of you interested in the experience of translating Punishment, take a look at my piece over on Crime Time, which discusses the pleasures and challenges of the process!