Marion Poschmann

The Pine Islands

(German title: Die Kieferninseln)
ca. 168 pages
Marion Poschmann
Foto: Marion Poschmann
© Jürgen Bauer

Marion Poschmann, born in 1969 in Essen, studied German Studies, Philosophy and Slavic Studies and currently lives in Berlin.

She has been recognized for her poetry and prose many times, and she was most recently awarded the 2011 Peter Huchel Prize and the 2011 Ernst Meister Prize for poetry.

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Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize

»Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine« Matsuo Bashō


Gilbert Silvester, a lecturer and researcher on beard fashions in film, is in shock. The previous night he dreamt that his wife was cheating on him. In one sudden, irrational act he leaves her, gets on the first available plane, and flies to Japan in order to get some distance. Once there he comes across the travelogues of the classical poet Bashō. Suddenly Gilbert has a goal: like all wandering monks he too wants to see the moon over the pine islands. On the tradition-steeped pilgrims’ route he’ll be able to lose himself in nature and leave his inner turmoil behind. But before he even begins he meets the student Yosa, himself on the way with a completely different kind of guide: the Complete Manual of Suicide. Will Gilbert be able to talk Yosa out of his plan? And what metamorphoses will Gilbert the coffee drinker go through himself in the Land of Tea…?

The Pine Islands is a novel of masterful lightness: profound, humorous, and exciting, it goes straight to the heart.

»Salt plum. Tuna. Some kind of golden mushroom. Beef. Spinach. Had Yosa failed to grasp that they were on a trip made up of hardship and restrictions?«


»The Pine Islands is a serene, playful, profoundly moving story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.« from the Jury Statement of The Man Booker International Prize 2019 longlist nomination

»Marion Poschmann’s novel The Pine Islands is a masterpiece. […] [A]stonishing, how perfectly Poschmann is able to transform her aesthetic credo into art. It is the reason she has become a central figure in German contemporary literature through her poems and novels.« Alexander Cammann, Die Zeit

»Marion Poschmann has written […] a finely crafted novel of filigree-like tracery. It is not only clever […], it is also imbued with a jovial serenity.« Tobias Lehmkuhl, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Marion Poschmann’s book is simply wonderful. Her clear and ever visually stunning language captivates from the opening sentences.« Stern

»Clever, poetic, funny.« Christoph Schröder, Tagesspiegel

»Marion Poschmann writes unfathomably buoyant, flawlessly beautiful prose.« Katharina Granzin, taz. die tageszeitung

»Marion Poschmann has found a beautiful voice for Die Kieferninsel, laconic, as transparent as a Japanese lacquer artwork that only gains depth through the repeated application and polishing of ever new layers.« Andreas Platthaus, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Poschmann […] accomplishes the feat of narrating a specific dropout tale, which at the same time conceals a spiritual pilgrimage covering all the big, existential topics.« Vorarlberger Nachrichten

»Die Kieferinseln (‘The Pine Islands’) is content in itself… without the surreal, the grotesque, the confusing. We are witness rather to a unique transformation with Japan as its delightful backdrop.« Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau

Other publications

Die Sonnenposition/Sun Position (2013)

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