Stephan Lohse

Johann’s Brother - Novel

(German title: Johanns Bruder)
ca. 343 pages
Stephan Lohse
Foto: Stephan Lohse
© Hans Panichen

Stephan Lohse, born in Hamburg in 1964, studied drama at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna and was employed at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, the Schaubühne in Berlin and at the Schauspielhaus in Vienna. His novel A Lazy God (2017) was on the SWR Bestseller List and nominated for the aspekte Prize for Literature. He lives in Berlin.

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A road trip along the 52nd parallel

Of incredible rage and a surprising love

An empathetic portrait of two brothers


Paul is arrested by police in a village in Northern Germany. He has beheaded seventeen chickens. Because he refuses to talk about the incident, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital, from where his younger brother Johann is supposed to pick him up – the two men haven’t seen each other in over twenty years. When Paul eventually asks his brother to accompany him on a trip, Johann agrees.

Their first stop is that village: Altensalzkoth. That’s where Adolf Eichmann, whose journey Paul has followed and charted in minute detail, hid from 1946 to 1950. Johann soon realises what the incident with the chickens was about and why he and Paul continue their journey towards the Dutch North Sea coast, always along the 52nd parallel.

In his new novel, Stephan Lohse takes us on a journey into history: into a family history full of violence and into the darkest chapter of the German past. Empathetically and hauntingly at once, he tells both the story of a pair of brothers who don’t have much in common and the Holocaust in Europe. It is the story about a love that has reappeared unexpectedly and about the incredible rage that can silence a person but also force them to act.

»›Why is your brother mute?‹ Johann had never thought about that question. ›Paul can’t lie,‹ he said.«


»It is emotionally moving but never sentimental […] Following the unequal brothers through the German provinces is a worthwhile literary journey.« Katrin Bettina Müller, taz. die tageszeitung

»Johann’s Brother is a book that leaves a long-lasting impression. Because of its truly extraordinary characters and because of Stephan Lohse’s sublime language.« Susanne Birkner, NDR

»Stephan Lohse verifies the oldest, most inexplicable secret of literature: how consoling extremely sad stories can be.« Annemarie Stoltenberg, NDR on A Lazy God

»Sensitive, without ever being kitschy, touching and humorous. A beautiful, impressive debut.« Hubert Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on A Lazy God

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