Christoph Hein

Weiskern's Legacy - Novel

(German title: Weiskerns Nachlass)
ca. 319 pages
Christoph Hein
Foto: Christoph Hein
© Heike Steinweg

Born in 1944, Christoph Hein lives in Berlin. He has written novels, novellas, short stories, plays, essays and children’s books. His most recent novels were on the Spiegel bestseller list for weeks. His recent awards include the 2019 Prix du Meilleur livre étranger (for Glückskind mit Vater), the 2019 Samuel Bogumił Linde Prize and the 2017 Grimmelshausen Prize.

Awards (selection):
2019: Prix du Meilleur livre étranger (for Glückskind mit Vater)
2019: Samuel Bogumił Linde Prize
2017: Grimmelshausen Literature Prize
2013: Stefan Heym Prize
2012: Uwe Johnson Prize
2010: Eichendorff Literature Prize
2008: Walter Hasenclever Literature Prize
2004: Schiller Memorial Prize of the State of Baden-Württemberg
2002: Austrian State Prize for European Literature
2000: Solothurner Literature Prize
1998: Peter Weiss Prize of the City of Bochum
1994: Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
1990: Erich Fried Prize (Vienna)
1983: Deutscher Kritikerpreis

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Has life become a forgery?

Rüdiger Stolzenburg, 59 years old, has been working as a part-time adjunct at a cultural studies institute for the past fifteen years. His career is flatlining, and on his meagre salary he can barely make ends meet. He is a prototypical member of the academic precariat. Stolzenburg is working on an edition of the complete works of Friedrich Wilhelm Weiskern, an 18th century Viennese actor, librettist and cartographer, but he has been unable to find anyone willing to fund or publish this work. On top of all that, the supposedly sensational new material discovered among Weiskern’s papers turns out to be a forgery.

When an additional tax claim from the government threatens to ruin him, Rüdiger Stolzenburg suddenly realises how precarious it all is: the world, the economy, politics, relationships. Everything falls apart, erupts into violence, and for the most part there is nothing behind the hollow façade. In Rüdiger Stolzenburg, Christoph Hein has created a character who reflects all the symptomatic perils facing our society and our civilisation here at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. Hein has succeeded in producing a highly relevant, realistic, and finely crafted social novel for the age.


»Weiskerns Nachlass is classic Hein. In a case study at once social and psychological, the reader experiences the protagonist’s bewilderment at contemporary society and anguish as he recalls incidents from his past that have led to his current plight. […] Hein’s work have consistently achieved wide appeal, and this novel also turn a mirror on some universal aspects of European societies: ageing, the crisis of higher education, the plight of older people, rising street violence, generation gaps, and the marginalization of literature in the digital age.« New Books in German

»Christoph Hein’s new book is probably the most distinct novel of the season.« Judith von Sternburg, Berliner Zeitung

»Christoph Hein’s reputation as an incorruptible commentator of our times has been reinforced with Weiskerns Nachlass. […] It celebrates the renaissance for the Leitmotif, a perfection of form, as is the book as a whole.« Katrin Hillgruber, Tagesspiegel

»Weiskerns Nachlass seems to be the artistic unification of dramatist and prose author Christoph Hein’s hitherto separate fields of literary work. […] Christoph Hein has published a finely constructed, finely balanced and cunning novel, exploring the forms of realistic narrative in new ways.« Christian Metz, FAZ

»A social novel with verve and anger.« Janina Fleischer, Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

»Weiskerns Nachlass is not only entertaining in its laconic descriptions of our social status quo; it is also extremely unsettling.« Jürgen Kanold, Südwestpresse

Other publications

Guldenberg/Guldenberg (2021)

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Verwirrnis/Befuddlement (2018)

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Trutz/Trutz (2017)

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Glückskind mit Vater/Portrait of a Son With Father (2016)

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Frau Paula Trousseau/Ms. Paula Trousseau (2007)

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In seiner frühen Kindheit ein Garten/In his early childhood, a garden (2005)

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Mama ist gegangen/Mama Has Gone (2005)

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Landnahme/Settlement (2004)

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Willenbrock/Willenbrock (2000)

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Von allem Anfang an/Von allem Anfang an (1997)

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Der Tangospieler/The Tango Player (1989)

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Horns Ende/Horn's End (1985)

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Der fremde Freund. Drachenblut/The Distant Lover (1982)

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