Christoph Hein

Portrait of a Son With Father

(German title: Glückskind mit Vater)
ca. 527 pages
Christoph Hein
Foto: Christoph Hein
© Heike Steinweg

Born in 1944, Christoph Hein lives in Berlin.

He has written novels, novellas, short stories, plays, essays and children's books. As of 2002, Suhrkamp Verlag has acquired the world rights to the works of Christoph Hein. He has garnered numerous literary awards for his work. When the Pen centres in East and West merged, Christoph Hein was President of the German Pen Centre from 1998 to 2000.

Awards (selection):
2019: Prix du Meilleur livre étranger (for "Portrait of a Son With Father")
2019: Samuel-Bogumił-Linde-Preis
2017: Grimmelshausen-Literaturpreis
2013: Stefan-Heym-Prize
2012: Uwe-Johnson-Prize
2010: Eichendorff-Literaturpreis
2008: Walter-Hasenclever-Literaturpreis
2004: Schiller-Gedächtnispreis des Landes Baden-Württemberg
2002: Österreichischer Staatspreis für Europäische Literatur
2000: Solothurner Literaturpreis
1998: Peter-Weiss-Preis der Stadt Bochum
1994: Bundesverdienstkreuz
1990: Erich-Fried-Preis (Wien)
1983: Deutscher Kritikerpreis

Sold to

Arabic world rights (Sefsafa), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Denmark (Gyldendal), Bulgaria (Atlantis)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV), German Entire Radio Reading (MDR)

Winner of the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger 2019


What does Konstantin Boggosch, whom his mother described as »child of fortune«, owe to his father? In Christoph Hein’s new novel, which mobilises all the registers of his storytelling prowess and his historicaldiagnostic skills, the father is the driving force. But by no means in a positive sense: ever since his birth in 1945, the son, now growing up in the early days of the GDR, has been trying to get away from his war criminal father: psychologically, physically, professionally, geographically, even in his love life.

He makes numerous attempts to step outside his father’s shadow: he assumes a new name, tries to join the Foreign Legion in Marseilles, moves back to the GDR just after the Wall had been built, but isn’t allowed to finish secondary school there; nevertheless, he is able to make the most of fortunate circumstances – he is a »child of fortune« after all – to become the principal of a grammar school by the end of the GDR. A success story… almost.

In the end he realises that an emancipation from collective and his personal history is doomed to failure. The imbrications of past and present make the child of fortune into a child of misfortune. And in this way he comes to embody all the political, social, and private realities of Germany. With irony and humour, movingly but without sentimentality or sarcasm, Christoph Hein tells the story of an extraordinary and yet paradigmatic life over more than sixty years of German history.


»[A] compassionate and honest review of human failings – and virtues.« New Books in German

»Beautifully translated and an absolutely recommendable robbery novel.« Weekendavisen (Denmark)

»Warmly recommended« Jyllands-Posten (Denmark, four star review)

»Stirring« Politiken (Denmark, four star review)

»Detailed storytelling with clear psychological depth and resonance.« Information

»Portrait of a Son With Father is a grand realistic novel.« Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark, four star review)

»Christoph Hein has written a great, intelligent, a gripping novel about the time since World War II up until our present, about East Germany, which then becomes the GDR, and also about the Western post-war Germany.« Rose-Maria Gropp, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Portrait of a Son With Father is a novel in sepia, a dystopia of the political and the private […] It’s the people living in a country so disfigured it is hardly recognisable, who make this novel so vivid.« Paul Jandl, DIE WELT

»... a special kind of adventure novel, one from whose 500 gripping pages one cannot withdraw.« Katrin Hillgruber, Der Tagesspiegel

»[Christoph Hein] sees himself as a chronicler, his narration close to reality, rummages in the quarry of his own biography and condenses 45 years of German history up until the reunification in 1989« Cornelia Zetzsche, BR2 Kultur aktuell

»A great German novel« Christian Buß, Spiegel Online

»With Portrait of a Son With Father, Hein presents a […] profound novel on Germany« Tip Berlin

»Portrait of a Son With Father truly is the ›new great novel on Germany‹ ...« Südkurier

»A great novel by a great narrator.« myself

Other publications

Verwirrnis/Befuddlement (2018)

Sold to:

France (Métailié)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV)

Trutz/Trutz (2017)

Rights available

Weiskerns Nachlass/Weiskern's Legacy (2011)

Sold to:

France (Métailié)

Film rights (SBS Production)

Frau Paula Trousseau/Ms. Paula Trousseau (2007)

Sold to:

English world rights (Metropolitan), French world rights (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Hungary (Europa)

In seiner frühen Kindheit ein Garten/In his early childhood, a garden (2005)

Sold to:

English world rights (Metropolitan), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Denmark (Gyldendal)

Mama ist gegangen/Mama Has Gone (2005)

Sold to:

Chinese simplex rights (21st Century Publishing House)

Landnahme/Settlement (2004)

Sold to:

English world rights (Metropolitan), Arabic world rights (Kanaan), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Denmark (Gyldendal), Slovakia (Kalligram), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Emas), Georgia (Ibis), Israel (Hakkibutz Hamecheud)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Book Club (Bertelsmann), German Book Club Special Edition (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

Willenbrock/Willenbrock (2000)

Sold to:

English world rights (Metropolitan), Spanish world rights (Anagrama), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Denmark (Gyldendal), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Czech Republic (Volvox Globator), Bulgaria (Emas), Greece (Kastaniotis), Ukraine (Junivers)

Von allem Anfang an/Von allem Anfang an (1997)

Sold to:

French world rights (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Korea (Thinking Tree)

Der Tangospieler/The Tango Player (1989)

Sold to:

Serbia (Radni Sto); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (FSG), Catalan rights (Climent), Russia (Raduga), France (Alinea), Italy (e/o), Denmark (Gyldendal), Sweden (Norstedt), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Finland (Otava), Hungary (Europa)

Horns Ende/Horn's End (1985)

Sold to:

Japan (Dogakusha); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Russia (Raduga), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Netherlands (Van Gennep), Denmark (Gyldendal), Sweden (Norstedt), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Finland (Otava), Poland (PIW), Czech Republic (Odeon), Slovakia (Slovenský spisovatel), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Emas), Romania / Republic of Moldova (Univers), Estonia (Eesti Raamat), Israel (Sifriat Poalim)

Der fremde Freund. Drachenblut/The Distant Lover (1982)

Sold to:

English world rights (Pantheon Books), Spanish world rights (Saymon), France (Métailié), Italy (e/o), Hungary (Magvetö), Bulgaria (Emas), Serbia (Radni Sto), Macedonia (Goten), Georgia (Ibis), Armenia (HGM "Areviq" Himnadram)