Deniz Ohde

Sky Glow - Novel

(German title: Streulicht)
ca. 284 pages
Deniz Ohde
Foto: Deniz Ohde
© Heike Steinweg

Deniz Ohde, born in Frankfurt am Main in 1988, lives in Leipzig. Scattered Light is her first novel. It was awarded the Literary Prize of the Jürgen Ponto Foundation, the aspekte Prize for Literature and shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2020.

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Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2020

A story of social climbing, self-empowerment and the predetermined breaking points in life

Selected for New Books in German – translation funding guaranteed

Literary Prize of the Jürgen Ponto Foundation 2020

aspekte Prize for Literature 2020


Sky Glow tells a story of class and origin without pithy slogans, of discrimination and contempt and their effects on the individual. The book talks about social shame, societal constraints and inequality, but at the same time it is a novel about a young woman’s self-empowerment, despite all adversities.

Industrial snow marks the village limits, a subtle acidity is in the air, and behind the bridge whirrs the production hall where the father pickles aluminium sheets day in, day out. This is where the first-person narrator grew up, this is where she returns to when her childhood friends get married. And while she walks the familiar paths, she remembers: the father and the blind grandfather who barely talk, don’t want any change and are unable to throw anything away to the point where not just the personal chattels but also the suppressed memories bulge out. Memories of the mother, whose desire for freedom was suffocating in the constraints of a West-German working class flat until she packed her bags in a burst of rebellion and left her daughter with her drinking father. Memories of leaving school early and the effort of making up what she had missed in a second attempt, of the shame and the fear – first of not passing, then of being put back in her place as someone who had climbed.

»On the way home, I told my mother the word I had heard just before the shove. I asked what it meant. An insult, she said. But they can’t have meant you. You are German.«


»In case anyone still wonders what a German social history with the firepower of a Didier Eribon or a Annie Ernaux looks like: Here it is!« Miriam Zeh

»[Sky Glow] is reminiscent of French authors like Didier Eribon, Édouard Louis and Annie Ernaux, who all left the margins of society through writing. Now Deniz Ohde’s Sky Glow presents a compelling counterpart in German literature that addresses the promise of education given by equal opportunities in its straightforward language without having to use provocative statements of identity politics or a ›J’accuse‹.« Sinem Kilic, DIE ZEIT

»This is a startling bildungsroman that, skillfully told and subtly and artfully constructed, makes visible how ostracism and abasement work right into the smallest movements.« Fridtjof Küchemann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Deniz Ohde practises masterly linguisitic mimicry on a world of things hostile to humans in which broken dishes fraternises with shreds of wallpaper and loud industrial bridges.« Hubert Winkels, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»And in a roundabout way, this impressive novel about the injustices and insolence in this country’s educational system is also proof that not everything in this system is bad but that it still provides opportunities to go one’s own way in life.« Carsten Otte, Der Tagesspiegel

»What really speaks to the reader is [...] mainly the narrator's trust in the fact that it comes down to precise storytelling. Those who wish to be seen, have to show themselves, with no poses.« Dirk Knipphals, taz. die tageszeitung

»Sky Glow is a quiet story whose force seeps in slowly.« Lili Hering, ZEIT ONLINE

»Her perception of details and her ability to create atmospheres from them is remarkable.« Elke Schmitter, Der Spiegel

»Sky Glow presents a strong, unfamiliar literary voice.« Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau

»[Deniz] Ohde observes and describes with precision what everybody sees but no one talks about. For those who identify as working-class children in particular, this novel, which gives expression to experiences without finding solutions however, is probably going to be an unsettling experience.« Anna Hoffmeister, der Freitag

»[...] a truly compelling debut. Empathetically, without ever seeming kitschy or soppy, Ohde portrays the difficult journey from working-class child of immigrant parents to academic.« Ingo Eisenbeiß, Deutschlandfunk

»Sensitive and with an incredible sense for dramatic composition, Deniz Ohde lends a voice to many children with a similar fate in Sky Glow. […] A substantial debut that unfolds its stunning effect precisely through its simplicity and ease.« Katia Schwingshandl, Buchkultur

»In her novel Sky Glow Deniz Ohde creates the portrait of a social class from which there is no escape in soft and quiet sentences and images that leave long-lasting impressions. Discerning, subtly and without making value judgements she exposes, layer by layer, a part of our society that receives little attention and that has not yet been looked at this way. Sky Glow is a praiseworthy debut from a new literary voice in Germany.« from the jury rationale on the aspekte Prize for Literature