Ralf Rothmann

The God of That Summer - Novel

(German title: Der Gott jenes Sommers)
ca. 254 pages
Ralf Rothmann
Foto: Ralf Rothmann
© Heike Steinweg

Ralf Rothmann was born in 1953 in Schleswig and grew up in the Ruhr. He lives in Berlin.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including:

Uwe-Johnson-Prize 2018
Premio San Clemente 2017
Kleist Preis 2017
Friedrich-Hölderlin-Prize 2013
Hans-Fallada-Preis 2008
Literaturpreis der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 2008
Max-Frisch-Preis 2006
Heinrich-Böll-Preis 2005
Wilhelm Raabe Literaturpreis 2004

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English world rights (Picador), Italy (Neri Pozza), Czech Republic (Argo), Croatia (Fraktura), Turkey (Yapi Kredi), Greece (Kastaniotis)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Hörbuch Hamburg), German Book Club rights (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

»The first thing you’ll do once the war is over is take dance lessons!«


A child in the war: at the start of 1945, twelve-year-old Luisa Norff has to flee to the countryside with her mother and her older sister as the bombardment of Kiel has begun. The estate owned by her brother-in-law Vinzent, a SS-officer, becomes an unexpected site of freedom: no more school, and as the Allied bombers are flying eastwards and more and more refugees are arriving, the young dreamer Luisa is roaming through the woods and tries to understand life from this side of the fires: What is this agitation she feels when she sees the young milker Walter, who are the prisoners at Klostersee, where did her sister Billie disappear to all of a sudden, and where does the wig maker actually get hair from? And as she herself experiences what all women are afraid of these days during Vinzent’s birthday celebrations, Luisa breaks down under the burden of the inexplicable.

Ralf Rothmann’s great novel To Die in Spring, translated into twenty-five languages, was a moving drama at the edge of the battlefields. The God of That Summer is an equally touching story about the climate of delusion and denunciation during the last months of a war that eclipses everybody’s heart forever and has a twelve-year-old say, and rightfully so: »I’ve experienced everything.«


»Ralf Rothmann has written a great novel. He writes effortlessly with a naturalness which is neither overly emotional nor too cool.« Spiegel Online

»Another literary masterpiece. Intelligent, gripping, and darkly resonant.« Wilhelmshavener Zeitung

»The more one ... reads, the more one thinks Rothmann’s books should be required reading at school. What war means to a young teen: that is what this book is about.« Aachener Zeitung

»With existential drive, but not without humour, Ralf Rothmann tells the story of the horrors of the last months of the Second World War from the perspective of a 12-year old boy.« Hamburger Abendblatt

»It’s true: thanks to its narrative style, in a strange way this novel gives the impression of having been written in the 1950s ... Rothmann is always extremely close to his characters’ experiences.« SWR

»Every war is more than just a war, according to Rothmann. And it is never really over. ... And that’s why The God of That Summer is a true novel of our times.« lr-online.de

»Reminding us that ... one can display inner nobility even in the midst of destruction, The God of That Summer sings humanity’s song of songs. But without the usual Sunday sermon.« Die literarische Welt 

»With great sensitivity the Kleist-Prize winner depicts the grim atmosphere of denunciations and delusion during this awful time.« Ruhr Nachrichten

»How can one continue to live when a war of annihilation together with a murderous ideology have destroyed everything humane? How can one remain a child in this in-between time at the beginning of 1945…? Ralf Rothmann’s moving and excellently told novel deals precisely with these questions.« Siegener Zeitung

»With great precision and an eye for sensual detail Rothmann once again returns to the years of the war, setting nature’s wholeness against a world which has been turned upside down. And over and over again he finds glimmers of hope, even dignity, in the worst filth.« Westdeutsche Allgemeine

»Ralf Rothmann has found an utterly singular tone, a poetry of horror – driven by an extremely subtle sensitivity to language and the highest degree of empathy. One of the best novels this spring.« Lokalkompass.de

»The God of That Summer is an even riskier ... book than his previous one, To Die in Spring. ... To put it bluntly, The God of That Summer is yet another key to the understanding Ralf Rothmann’s work as a whole.« Deutschlandfunk

»The haunting portrayal of conflict and carnage in the final weeks of the second world war makes this German novel a modern classic.« Rachel Seiffert, The Guardian about To Die in Spring

»Rothmann’s wilful, ancient Grimm is as poetic as he is unsparing.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»This masterful novel is a deeply moving depiction of the last months of the war.« Rolling Stone

»History’s fine print lies beneath the ground and can explode at any time, [Alexander] Kluge once remarked. It has exploded for Rothmann and has resulted in the most important of his recent novels.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Once again Rothmann manages to make a specific atmosphere of place and time – even though one he did not personally experience – come alive.« Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

»With his usual stylistic mastery, Ralf Rothmann delivers memorable, deeply horrifying scenes.« Lesart

»Terrifying, merciless, superb!« weltexpress.info

»At the end of these 250 excellent, readable, entertaining pages readers have been given even more reasons for why this Rothmann book has been such a success.« Darmstädter Echo

Other publications

Im Frühling sterben/To Die in Spring (2015)

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English world rights (Picador UK; USA/Canada sublicense: FSG; English audiobook sublicense: Tantor), Spanish world rights (Libros del Asteroide), Catalan rights (L'Altra Editorial), Portuguese rights (Sextante Editora), France (Denoël), Italy (Neri Pozza), Netherlands (Arbeiderspers), Denmark (Rosinante), Sweden (Thorén & Lindskog), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Finland (Atena), Poland (W.A.B.), Czech Republic (Argo), Slovak Republic (Premedia), Hungary (Magvetö), Bulgaria (Atlantis), Romania (ART), Estonia (Hea Lugu), Croatia (Fraktura), Serbia (Laguna), Slovenia (Goga), Turkey (Yapi Kredi), Greece (Kastaniotis), Kosovo / Albanian world rights (Buzuku)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Hörbuch Hamburg), German Entire Radio Reading (NDR)

Feuer brennt nicht/Fire Doesn't Burn (2009)

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English world rights (Seagull), Arabic world rights (Kalima), Lithuania (Lithuania Writers Union Publishers)

Junges Licht/Young Light (2004)

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English world rights (Seagull), Spanish world rights (Libros Del Asteroide), Russia (Fluid), Finland (Avain), Turkey (Metis), Azerbaijan (Alatoran); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Poland (Atut)

Hitze/Heat (2003)

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Croatia (Fraktura), Macedonia (Antolog); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Russia (Ast)

Milch und Kohle/Milk and Coal (2000)

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Sweden (Thoren & Lindskog), Serbia (Clio), Turkey (Yapi Kredi); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Laurence Teper)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Book Club rights (Büchergilde Gutenberg), German Hardcover Sublicense (Klartext)