Book review: a GDR “Bildungsroman” for language learning

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“Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee” and its companion movie “Sonnenallee” offer a great way to start reading German unassisted.

Author: Jim Peterson

Being a teenager is hard. It’s even harder when your teachers are trying to make you a good communist and all the music you love is “verboten”.

 “Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee” by Tomas Brussig is short, entertaining and great for learners just starting to read unassisted in German.

Why it’s particularly good for language learners

Another point that makes this a great starter book for reading in German is that there is also a movie version, called “Sonnenallee”. Yet, contrary to the norm, the book was written after the film.

Brussig worked on the film script and enjoyed it so much that he went back and wrote a book. But there are so many differences between the book and the film that you can watch it first without spoiling the book. This gives you a primer on the vocabulary, setting and characters that makes reading the book much easier.

Of course you can do this with any book/movie pairing, but the fact that “Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee” and “Sonnenallee” have significantly diverging plots means that you’ll get the benefits of watching the movie first, while avoiding too many spoilers.

Still, if you don’t feel up to the challenge of reading a German book unassisted, Klett makes an easy reader version, rated at level B1 – intermediate.

Reading level: B2 – Upper intermediate

About Thomas Brussig

Thomas Brussig grew up in East Berlin, so it’s no surprise that several of his books deal with life in the GDR, the most famous of which being “Helden wie wir” and “Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee”.

Genre: Fiction / Coming of age

Bibliographic data:

Author: Brussig, Thomas
Book title: Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee
Publisher: FISCHER Taschenbuch
Pages: 160
Price: €8.99
ISBN: 9783596148479

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