Stephan Thome

Centrifugal Forces - Novel

(German title: Fliehkräfte)
ca. 474 pages
Stephan Thome
Foto: Stephan Thome
© Heike Steinweg

Stephan Thome, born in 1972 in Biedenkopf, studied Philosophy and Sinology at the Freie Universität in Berlin and at various universities in China, Taiwan and Japan. He worked in East Asia for ten years and has also lived in Lisbon. His novels Border Crossing (original title: Grenzgang, 2009) and Centrifugal Forces (original title: Fliehkräfte, 2012) were both shortlisted for the German Book Prize. His work has won several prizes. Stephan Thome lives in Taipei.

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Chinese simplex rights (People's Literature Publishing House), Chinese complex rights (Linking)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV), German Book Club Rights (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

  Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2012 »


»Thome seeks to show life as it is. And he manages to do it, with an artistry, a technical virtuosity, and a charm that is seldom encountered.« Die Welt


Hartmut Hainbach is in his late fifties and has achieved everything he ever wished for: he is professor of philosophy and married to his dream woman, whom he still loves after twenty years of marriage. And yet Hartmut is not content: his wife has moved to Berlin, leaving Hartmut alone in the former German capital of Bonn. Now they only see each other at weekends.

Their daughter lives in Portugal and keeps her parents at arm’s length. And with the structural reforms in European higher education, Hartmut is finding it hard to take pleasure in his work. When he receives a surprise job offer at an up-and-coming Berlin publishing house, he finally wants to know where he stands: in his relationship to his daughter, in his marriage, but also in relation to himself and this life in which he thought all the most important decisions had already been made long ago.

Three years after his critically and publically acclaimed debut Grenzgang (over 60,000 copies sold, shortlisted for the 2009 German Book Prize), in Stephan Thome’s latest novel Centrifugal Forces, we watch as another character begins to stumble and fall. With a breathtakingly acute sense of failure and for the things that really hurt, Thome sends his protagonist on a journey that will decide everything. Via France and Spain, it leads him to Lisbon and into his past, where he will have to face the disavowals and abysses of the life he has lived.


»The life of the West German suburban intellectual Hartmut Heinbach unfolds calmly and unspectacularly, just like this quietly told, earnest tale, which is just as unpretentious in its literary construction as Heinbach’s life.« Sebastian Hammelehle, Spiegel Online

»The story Centrifugal Forces tells is true in a brutal and terribly funny way. And even something so seemingly innocuous as the old DVD box that Hainbach finds one day in his basement reveals just how masterful a storyteller Thome really is.« Sandra Kegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Thome wants to show life as it is. And that he does—with skill, with technical virtuosity, and with charm—on a scale that is rarely seen nowadays.« Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt

»A great master of emotional nuance.« Tilman Krause, Die Welt

»... the tone with which he depicts the life of the German jaded middle-class intellectual is pitch-perfect.« Nada Weigelt, Financial Times Deutschland

»Careful, nuanced character studies, brilliant dialogue, an unadorned style that seems to want to stay in the background but which for that very reason captures and refracts the atmosphere of the time—an outstanding novel.« Helmut Böttiger, Deutschlandradio

»Centrifugal Forces is [...] admirable, substantial and self-contained, dynamic and enlivened by an epic spirit.« Meike Fessmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»It’s the unflinching gaze at the startlingly precarious generation that is now turning 50 that sets Thome’s understated and conventionally written novel apart.« Michael Braun, Die Rheinpfalz

»...Thome’s strength lies in his seemingly inelaborate and yet haunting psychological realism.« Wolfgang Schneider, börsenblatt

»Profound and at the same time an absolute pleasure to read. One would be hard pressed to find a work of literature with better dialogue or a more astute view of life. This novel is a journey, and once you get on board you won’t want to get off again.« Eckart Baier, buchjournal

»In his second novel, Stephan Thome, who is only 40, again shows that he is […] a great expert in the existential crises of people who only ever wanted to do everything right in their lives and at some point are left with nothing but a peculiar empty feeling.« Claudia Voigt, KulturSPIEGEL

»Thome is very close to his characters and his storytelling exerts a pull that is on par with his celebrated American influences. Books like this are the reason people keep reading novels.« Georg Diez, Der Spiegel

»With his second novel, Centrifugal Forces, Stephan Thome has further perfected his writing prowess.« Börsenblatt

»In this artfully constructed novel that jumps adroitly through time, Thome shows us that a person’s life doesn’t have just one beginning but that it consists of phases, each of which has a beginning of its own.« Heike Geilen, tabularasa-jena.de

»As a film this story probably would have been a road movie. But through judicious use of embedded flashbacks, Stephan Thome transforms this trip into a voyage of self-discovery for a man on the wrong side of fifty who has achieved everything but still hasn’t got to where he was trying to go.« Holger Schlodder, Darmstädter Echo


Stephan Thome reads from his novel Centrifugal Forces

Other publications

Gott der Barbaren/God of the Barbarians (2018)

Sold to:

Chinese simplex rights (Social Sciences Academic Press), Chinese complex rights (Linking)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Griot)

Gegenspiel/Counterplay (2015)

Sold to:

Chinese complex rights (Linking)

Domestic rights sales: German Audiobook (DAV), German Entire Radio Readings (SWR and NDR), German Book Club (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

Grenzgang/Borderwalk (2009)

Sold to:

Chinese simplex rights (Jiangsu People's Publishing House), Chinese complex rights (Linking), Netherlands (Cossée)

Domestic Rights Sales: Film rights (WDR), German Audiobook (Griot), German Book Club (Büchergilde Gutenberg)