Judith Schalansky

The Giraffe's Neck

with 20 Illustrations
(German title: Der Hals der Giraffe)
ca. 224 pages
Judith Schalansky
Foto: Judith Schalansky
© Jürgen Bauer

Judith Schalansky, born in Greifswald in 1980, lives in Berlin where she works as a writer, editor and book designer. Her work, which includes the internationally successful bestsellers Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln and the novel Der Hals der Giraffe, has been translated into more than twenty languages and has won several prizes. Verzeichnis einiger Verluste was longlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize and the Europese Literatuurprijs 2021.

Awards (selection):
2009 ›Most beautiful book of the year‹ by the Book Art Foundation for Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln

2009 Residential grant from Villa Aurora, Los Angeles

2012 ›Most beautiful book of the year‹ by the Book Art Foundation for Der Hals der Giraffe

2018 Wilhelm Raabe Prize for Literature

2020 Christine Lavant Prize

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English world rights (Bloomsbury), Spanish world rights (Random House Mondadori), Chinese simplex rights (People's Literature Publishing House), Chinese complex rights (Locus), Russia (Text), Brazilian Portuguese Rights (Objetiva), France (Actes Sud), Italy (nottetempo), Netherlands (Signatuur), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Sweden (Pequod Press), Norway (Press), Finland (Tammi), Korea (Galmuri), Poland (Ha!Art), Czech Republic (Paseka), Hungary (Typotex), Bulgaria (Geia-Libris), Romania (Allfa), Estonia (Tänapäev), Bosnia (Imprimatur)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV), German Book Club (Büchergilde Gutenberg), German Radio Play (SWR), German Stage Adaptations (Schauspiel Frankfurt - also performed at various other German Theatres; Maxim Gorki Theatre Berlin)

Longlisted for the German Book Prize 2011


»There was no having your say with Inge Lohmark. No one had a choice. It was selective breeding or nothing.«

Three days in the life of a biology teacher – the last of her kind, a relic of the former GDR. This dry-humoured story is set in one of the most absurd places in the world: a school.

Adaptation is everything. Inge Lohmark is well aware of that; after all, she has been teaching biology for more than thirty years. Nothing will change the fact that her school is going to be closed in four years – in the dwindling town in the Eastern German countryside, there are fewer and fewer children. Lohmark’s husband, who was a cattle inseminator during the GDR era, is now breeding ostriches. Their daughter Claudia emigrated to the USA years ago and has no intention of having children. Everyone resists the course of nature that Inge Lohmark teaches every day in her classes. When she finds herself having feelings for a girl in the 9th grade that go beyond the love-hate relationship between students and teachers, her biologically determined world view becomes shaky. In increasingly outlandish ways, she tries to save what can no longer be saved.

Judith Schalansky’s promising new novel The Giraffe’s Neck, which follows her highly acclaimed Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln (The Atlas of Remote Islands), portrays a biology teacher fighting to adhere to the laws of nature. Straining her neck while trying to eat the forbidden fruit, the protagonist eventually ends up losing faith in her personal God Darwin.


»Judith Schalansky presents us with an inverted Bildungsroman, a little anti-Darwinian manifesto. She handles urgent, weighty topics with a singular elegance and lightness of touch: the ageing population, climate change, rural depopulation, and the failure of the knowledge society.« FAZ

»This novel is a Bildungsroman, two or even three times over. A novel about education and the education system. And a novel about the formation and deformation of a woman whose mind and what is left of her heart are permanently and violently scarred through an encounter with the limits of her worldview. We don’t mind saying it again: this is our book for the season.« Die Welt

»Schalansky’s ability to write both densely as well as elegantly, seriously as well as playfully, is what makes her second novel one of the most unusual and best post-reunification novels.« Der Spiegel

»Judith Schalansky has created a character who is both wonderfully cruel and at the same time equally pitiful and touching. She has developed a magnificent, haunting voice, at once sarcastic and extremely funny. … A voice that will remain in the reader’s mind long after they have finished reading.« taz

»But most impressive of all is the way Judith Schalansky completely disappears behind her protagonist, puts the reader under her spell and then sits back while she gradually unravels. A subtle case against a misconstrued Darwinism, and compelling proof of what literature is capable of.« NDR Info

»This novel is like an IV drip that delivers a perfect cocktail of observant fantasy and coolly poetic language straight into the reader’s bloodstream.« Das Magazin

»In short pithy sentences, Judith Schalansky paints a picture, by turns pointedly comic and bitterly affecting, of a confused, helpless society that unthinkingly allows itself to be swept along by the course of the world.« Lesart

»A talented and promising new voice.« FR

»Schalansky’s novel is original, headstrong and razor sharp. With it, she has placed herself squarely at the forefront of the literary evolution.« FAZ

International Press Coverage:

»This is a brilliant novel: precise, relentless, very funny and unexpectedly powerful. [...] ‘Remarkable’ is too small a word. It is very funny, desperately sad and real, and, ultimately, shocking. She has laid the path to the central revelation so well that, although one suspects it, it does take one by surprise.« Irish Times, Ireland

»The Giraffe’s Neck is a subtle, understated book, tension, emotion and dark humour bubbling away underneath the surface, with a melancholic air of retrospection about it. In terms of atmosphere it’s unlike anything else I’ve read, and I’d recommend it as a meditation on the need or otherwise for change in one’s life.« The Big Issue, UK

»Just as the world which Inge Lohmark has painstakingly built up around her crumbles, so too does the utopia of a country founded upon a vision that is both rigid and deterministic« La Repubblica, Italy

»Her book is at once a report on the new Germany, an acid reflection on school and adolescence, the portrait of a woman and a study of concrete cases illustrating the eternal »struggle for life« according to Darwin« Libération, France

»Schalansky writes her way into current European literature with this little pearl of a novel« Berlingske Tidende, Denmark

»Sublime […] A beautifully quirky novel, genuinely recommended« Trouwe, Holland


Judith Schalansky reads from her novel The Giraffe's Neck


Other publications

Verzeichnis einiger Verluste/An Inventory of Losses (2018)

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USA & Canada (New Directions), UK & Commonwealth (MacLehose Press), Spanish world rights (Acantilado), Catalan rights (Mès llibres), Chinese simplex rights (China CITIC Press / Sight), Chinese complex rights (Locus), Portuguese rights (Elsinor), Arabic world rights (Kalima), Italy (Nottetempo), Netherlands (Meridiaan), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Sweden (Pequod Press), Norway (Forlaget Press), Finland (Osuuskunta Poesia), Korea (Mujintree), Japan (Kawade), Thailand (Gamme Magie Editions), Indonesia (Yayasan Pustaka Obor), Poland (Ha!Art), Hungary (Corvina), Croatia (Mizantrop), Greece (Antipodes), Mongolia (Monsudar)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV)