Marcel Beyer

The Karnau Tapes - Novel

(German title: Flughunde)
ca. 300 pages
Marcel Beyer
Foto: Marcel Beyer
© Jürgen Bauer

Marcel Beyer was born and raised in Cologne. The author of several novels and collections of poems, he has received numerous awards and was named one of the best young novelists in the world by The New Yorker. He lives in Dresden.

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USA (Harcourt), UK (Secker and Warburg), Spanish world rights (Debate), Russia (Amphora), France (Calmann-Lévy), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Meulenhoff), Denmark (Gyldendal), Sweden (Bonniers), Korea (Hyonamsa), Japan (Sanshusha), Poland (Słowo / Obraz Terytoria), Slovakia (Slovensky Spisovatel), Bulgaria (Balkani), Estonia (Tänapäev), Serbia (Geopoetika), Turkey (Ayrinti), Israel (Books in the Attic)

Kleist Prize 2014


World War II. The final days of the Third Reich. Hermann Karnau, a sound engineer, is obsessively compiling an archive of every conceivable nuance of human sound. Karnau's work so impresses Hitler's leading propagandist that he entrusts his five children to Karnau's care while his wife is giving birth to the sixth. Helga, the eldest daughter, who is wise beyond her years, forms a warm bond of friendship with the engineer.

Karnau's assignments take him to Nazi party rallies, where he records the rantings of leaders, the roar of approving crowds, the labored breathing of the crippled, the rasp of throats constricted with fear; to Alsace, where he plays his part in silencing any sound that is not German; to the Eastern Front, where he records the screams and death rattles of fallen soldiers. As Germany sinks into blood and destruction, Helga bears withess to the disintegration of her family - her mother's instability, her father's infidelity and pathetic denial that defeat is near. In the novel's bracing conclusion, Karnau joins the family in Hitler's bunker for the ultimate challenge of his career: to record the Fuhrer's last utterances.


»A virtuoso novel that ranks among the most vivid and unsettling reponses to Germany’s Nazi Past.« The Times (London)

»A quite brilliant piece of horror […] superbly crafted.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»A masterpiece« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»One of the most impressive books about the last days of the war« Der Spiegel

»This novel is frighteningly perfect« Literarisches Quartett

Other publications

Flughunde/The Karnau Tapes (2013)

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English World Rights (New York Review of Books), France (Ça et La), Netherlands (Scratch Books)

Putins Briefkasten/Putin’s Postbox (2012)

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English world rights (Voland & Quist)

Kaltenburg/Kaltenburg (2008)

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English world rights (Harcourt), Spanish world rights (Edhasa), Chinese simplex rights (People’s Literature Publishing House), Arabic world rights (Kalima), France (Métailié), Italy (Einaudi), Netherlands (Cossée), Sweden (Bonniers), Norway (Pax), Czech Republic (Havran), Hungary (Magvetö), Croatia (Fraktura), Serbia (Geopoetika), Turkey (Ayrinti)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Hoffmann und Campe)