Katharina Winkler

Blue Jewellery - Novel

(German title: Blauschmuck)
ca. 196 pages
Katharina Winkler
Foto: Katharina Winkler
© Max Zerrahn

Katharina Winkler, born in Vienna in 1979, studied German philology and theatre studies. Blue Jewellery is her debut novel. The author lives in Berlin.

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English world rights (Seagull), Spanish world rights (Editorial Periférica), France (Jacqueline Chambon, Large Print Sublicense: Voir de Près), Romania (Niculescu), Slovenia (Modrijan Zalozba), Macedonia (Antolog), India / Hindi (Aryan)

Prix du premier roman étranger 2017


Based on a true story


»Katharina Winkler did not write a novel against man, Turkey or Islam, but for woman. The novel makes a strong case for the weak and the suppressed.« from the jury rationale of the Mara-Cassens-Prize 2016



Filiz grows up in a Kurdish village in Turkey. She is twelve when she falls in love with Yunus, only a couple of years older than her, and they start to dream of a life together in the West: »›How do we want to live, Yunus?‹ / ›In jeans. We’ll be wearing blue jeans. In Germany.‹«

When she is fifteen, she marries Yunus – in secret, and against her father’s wishes. But the wedding bursts the bubble of their dreams of freedom and autonomy: instead of blue jeans, Filiz is now wearing a veil; together with the three children that were born into this marriage, she is subjected to physical and mental abuse by her husband and her mother-in-law. And the family’s emigration to the West doesn’t change anything about that – at first. Because after the violence escalates one last time, Filiz manages the seemingly impossible: to escape from physical and psychological dependency.

Katharina Winkler‘s debut novel Blue Jewellery is based entirely on true events. It describes the abysses of dependence and brutal subjugation vividly and depicts a woman’s life, in which love and violence aren’t merely inseparable, but have become indistinguishable.


»Katharina Winkler has found a language that is appropriate for this subject matter. There’s the highly condensed style in which she lets Filiz tell her story, as if she were standing there with downcast eyes, but tenacious enough to finally give way to her story.« Sandra Kegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Winkler’s style is sparse, simple and rough, like beatings with a log of wood, like the worldview of that young woman. Every word hits home, none is too much. There’s a poetry of wordlessness in [Winkler’s] densification. The poetry of impuissance. The abyss finds room in what is left unsaid.« Sabine Vogel, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Many things in this story are not being questioned, because the author consistently writes from her protagonist’s perspective. Therein lies the force of the novel; you cannot escape Filiz’ helplessness, nor her loneliness or her will to persevere that is hard to bear.« Anke Dürr, Literatur Spiegel (February 2016)

»an important political event that may also be called a literary event due to the force of its language and its aesthetic approach.« Anton Thuswaldner, Salzburger Nachrichten

»Poetically highly condensed, Katharina Winkler bestows a linguistic intensity to her protagonist that transforms the most cruel reality into highly differentiated prose.« br.de - Bayerischer Rundfunk

»a debut in a class of its own […]The narrative rhythm develops a fascinating pull that one cannot escape. Again and again, the author enhances the power of her imagery into poignant maxims with downright lyrical character. She works virtuously with reduction and consolidation, with hard cuts and the art of effective omission.« Christian Schacherreiter, OÖN

»By picking up the story of a real woman, whom she calls Filiz in the novel, and telling it with rough beauty, sometimes on the edge of what is bearable, Katharina Winkler counters actual violence. Through Katharina Winkler’s language, Filiz becomes an individual whose dignity the author produces in the act of narration. This is deeply humane, since it transcends mere poetry. To be able to read this story is a blessing, for one feels the power of literature – the beautiful and fictitious coexists with the rough, the real without denying it, but also without having to submit to it.« Carsten Hueck, ORF Ex Libris


Katharina Winkler reads from Blue Jewellery: