Nina Bußmann

Thicket - Novel

(German title: Dickicht)
ca. 300 pages
Nina Bußmann
Foto: Nina Bußmann
© Heike Steinweg

Nina Bußmann, born in Frankfurt am Main in 1980, studied General and Comparative Literature and Philosophy in Berlin and Warsaw and currently lives in Berlin. She has received various awards for her work, including the 3sat Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize 2011 for an excerpt from her debut novel, Große Ferien, and most recently the Robert Gernhardt Prize 2019.

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»As long as there are encounters there is a way.«


Only a very few people manage to get sober on their own. If you want to stop drinking, you should connect with a group. Addict Ruth knows phrases like these, but she doesn’t believe in them. She manages best on her own. However, when she wakes up in hospital after a heavy fall, she needs support and turns to a fellow patient, Katja.

This happens to Katja all the time; people asking her for a favour, a signature, some change. Helping makes her feel good, even though she knows that she will have a hard time drawing boundaries further down the line. She soon notices that liking Ruth isn’t easy. And there are others who are also trying – Max, who wanted to support her in her fight against the new landlord along with his leftwing collective. Katja only knows him from hearsay and feels jealous. Who is this guy that allegedly never loses patience; offers no solid resistance?

Nina Bußmann tells the story of three people in the city, fighting for control but having long since lost it. Entangled in precarious working and living conditions they stumble through dependencies and failed friendships, promises of rehab and spiritual delusions. Hardly anyone can get by without intoxication. And still, all of them are looking for clarity.


»In lucid words, Nina Bußmann talks about the uncertainty of a modern consciousness caught between work and living environments, between friendship, therapy and spiritual temptations. In different stylistic forms – notes, diaries, narrative prose – Bußmann develops multiple characters at once, whose existences seem to be located at the edge of our perception but that are found in the centre of our times.« From the jury statement, Robert Gernhardt Preis 2019

»The precision of description is what makes the vagueness of life recognizable in Nina Bußmann’s books.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Thicket is a stylistically meticulously constructed novel about boundaries and violations of boundaries, power and manipulation, loss and responsibility […] A chamber play of emotions.« Dagmar Kaindl, Buchkultur