Josef Bierbichler

Mittelreich - Novel

(German title: Mittelreich)
ca. 391 pages
Josef Bierbichler
Foto: Josef Bierbichler
© Markus Tedeskino

Josef Bierbichler, born in 1948 on Starnberger See, is one of the internationally most-known German actor, who has performed in all the most prominent German-language theatres. He has also starred in many films, the last being The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band), for which he received an Oscar nomination in 2010. Mittelreich is his first novel at Suhrkamp Verlag. In 2016, he was awarded the Fontane Prize for Mittelreich.

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Josef Bierbichler, the renowned German stage and film actor, tells a story that spans a hundred years in Germany. It is an epic that deals with war and destruction, old power and new wealth, and the so-called »Years of Plenty«.

During World War I, when an enemy bullet first goes through the helmet of the lakeside innkeeper’s oldest son and then through his skull, younger brother Pankraz becomes his father’s heir. Although he survives the Second World War, he would rather be an artist than a farmer or innkeeper. However, a huge storm threatening to sweep the house and property into the lake transforms Pankraz into a good businessman and head of the family. But when his own son later begs not to be sent to a Catholic boarding school, Pankraz is perplexed. These days, he is too busy with other things: leaving the past in the past and examining the new conditions of his present.

A lakeside inn in Bavaria, bizarre guests and three generations get hopelessly entangled in an unwanted legacy.


»Bierbichler lays himself bare with incomparable force. He is sensitive and vulnerable at the same time like no other.« Der Spiegel

»Bierbichler has written a novel in clear, poetic language that tells to story of the terror and folly of the 20th Century. One of the literary events of the year.« Der Spiegel

»Bierbichler has an overwhelming talent for telling the stories of losers and the lost. […] In that respect Mittelreich is an historical novel, a small-town portrait of the twentieth century. And what is it you say about works of historiography when they turn out well: it is a great credit to the author that he has been able to reconstruct this history.« SZ