Hans-Ulrich Treichel


(German title: Tagesanbruch)
ca. 120 pages
Hans-Ulrich Treichel
Foto: Hans-Ulrich Treichel
© Heike Steinweg

Hans-Ulrich Treichel was born in Versmold, Westphalia in 1952. He now lives in Berlin and Leipzig and was Professor of German Literature at the University of Leipzig. His works have been translated into 28 languages.

»Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s books are a testament that we know nothing, least of all about ourselves.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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France (Gallimard)

»There are things you withhold even from the dead.«


Daybreak leads into the centre of Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s writings, up and close to the pain points of loss and forlornness. This is the powerful, doleful story of a woman who tries to finally say everything she never said before at her child’s deathbed. And who, in the end, has to acknowledge that words fail her.

A mother is holding her grown-up son in her arms. He is dead, which soon becomes clear; she took care of him during the last months of his illness. Before the old woman calls the doctor, she begins one last conversation with her son, a monologue that becomes account and memory: of a life at the side of a man left disabled after the war, of the jointly led textile business in post-war Germany, the joy of being able to buy a piano, »something to last«, a shiny black piano for the only son, whom she loved and who had always remained a stranger to her nonetheless. Because his existence is possibly the result of a traumatising experience of violence that has haunted her all her life.


»Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s lament of a mother is a great epitaph for all those who have experienced horrible things during the war and who have to keep silent about it because they are unable to talk about it. The history of post-war Germany, a country that seems so foreign to us now with all its suffering, shame, fear and obduracy, is reflected as if in a dark mirror. And moving in all the misfortune: the mother who has gone through life silently and who finds her voice in the end, a woman with a simple and brave heart. Treichel’s linguistically and stylistically highly dense depiction of a plain but simultaneously outrageous life leaves a deep impression.« Claus-Ulrich Bielefeld, Literarische Welt

»Daybreak leads right into the heart of things that are inescapable in this life: pain, loss, forlornness.« Der Tagesspiegel

»Treichel was and is a brilliant conjurer of this constrained post-war atmosphere and its lack of alternatives.« Christoph Schröder, Frankfurter Rundschau

»an essential book on post-war Germany« Christian Buß, Spiegel Online

»a dense story about all that remained unsaid in the war generation.« stern

»more moving than many a few hundred page long, excessive family saga.« Edelgard Abenstein, Deutschlandradio Kultur

»There’s no need for complicated, convoluted storylines, no excessive narrative architecture. […] Daybreak belongs among the rare literary treasures that you put down with regret.« Claudia Christophersen, NDR

»masterfully delicate« Rolf Birkholz, Neue Westfälische

Other publications

Grunewaldsee/Grunewaldsee (2010)

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France (Gallimard)

Anatolin/Anatolin (2008)

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France (Gallimard), Poland (Czytelnik)

Menschenflug/A Man's Flight (2005)

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France (Gallimard)

Der irdische Amor/Earthly Amor (2002)

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English world rights (Pantheon), Chinese simplex rights (People’s Literature Publishing House), Russia (AST), France (Hachette), Italy (Neri Pozza), Netherlands (Ambo|Anthos), Denmark (Lindhardt & Ringhof), Norway (Pax), Bulgaria (Atlantis), Turkey (Iletisim)

Tristanakkord/Trista­nakko­­rd (2000)

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English world rights (Pantheon), Spanish world rights (Galaxia Gutenberg), Catalan rights (Enciclopedia Catalana), Russia (Limbus), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Companhia das Letras), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Ambo|Anthos), Denmark (Lindhardt & Ringhof), Sweden (Wahlström & Widstrand), Norway (Pax), Poland (Czytelnik), Lithuania (Alma Littera)

Der Verlorene/Lost (1998)

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USA (Pantheon), UK (Picador), Spanish world rights (Galaxia Gutenberg), Catalan rights (Enciclopedia Catalana), Chinese complex rights (Eurasian Publ. Group), Russia (AST), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Companhia das Letras), France (Hachette), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Ambo|Anthos), Denmark (Lindhardt & Ringhof), Sweden (Wahlström & Widstrand), Norway (Pax), Finland (Söderström), Iceland (Mal og menning), Korea (Chaeksesang), Thailand (schau-Thai), Poland (Czytelnik), Slovakia (Slovart), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Atlantis), Lithuania (Sofoklis), Croatia (Croatian Philological Ass.), Slovenia (Družina), Turkey (Ayrinti), Greece (Periplous), Albania (K&B), Ukraine (Tandem), Israel (Achuzat Bayit)