Juli Zeh: Decompression (Nullzeit)

More information about Juli Zeh on www.juli-zeh.de and Schöffling & Co. Verlag

Juli Zeh
Decompression (Nullzeit)


256pp (62,500 words)

English sample translation (pdf)

>> SPIEGEL Bestseller List, #15
>> STERN Bestseller List, #11
>> ORF Bestseller List, #4
>> world stage premiere at Theater Bonn

A psychological thriller in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith about two couples caught in a web of conflicting passions while deep-sea diving off the beautiful Canary Islands

In the late 1990s Sven Fiedler and his girlfriend, Antje, left Germany for the island of Lanzarot, rejecting what Sven considered a vulgar culture of materialism and judgment. The young couple set up a diving service cater- ing. Life on the island goes smoothly until two tourists, Jola von der Pahlen, a daytime soap star on the verge of cinematic success, and Theo Hast, a stalled novelist, engage Sven for an expensive two-week intensive diving experience. Staying in a guest house on Sven and Antje’s property, the two visitors quickly become entangled with their hosts in a mess of jealousies and suspicions.

Shifting through various points of view, the reader is constantly kept guessing about who knows what, and more important, who is telling the truth. A brutal game of delusions, temptations, and manipulations plays out, pointing toward a violent end. But a quiet one, down in the underwater world beneath the waves.

Juli Zeh has been honoured with the prestigious Thomas Mann Prize (endowed with 25,000 EUR) for her »multi-faceted work of prose focusing on questions of individual freedom and responsibility, social values and orientation. With her cleverly composed novels and conclusively argued essays Juli Zeh succeeds in creating lucid analyses of the present. In this she takes her turn in the best tradition of engaged literature – for a world desperately needing authors like her.«
Previous laureates include Daniel Kehlmann, Ruth Klüger, Günter Grass or Christa Wolf.

Rights sold

Croatia - Fraktura
Czech Republic - Host
Denmark - Samleren/Rosinante
France - Actes Sud
Korea - Minumsa
The Netherlands - Ambo|Anthos
Sweden - Weyler
Spain - Random House Mondadori
UK - HarvillSecker/Random House UK
US - Nan Talese/Random House US

paperback - Random House/btb
audio book - Der Audio Verlag
book club - Büchergilde Gutenberg (D)
film rights - memento fim
stage rights - Theater Bonn (world premiere)

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»A nightmarish, roaring, cold thriller. (...) Phenomenal!«
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»A powerful nucleus of problems about recent political and legal discourse negotiated between a few characters who come face-to-face with the conflict, bringing it close to a crime novel or thriller; a clever game with false bottom; relative consistency of time and place with a simultaneous existence of political implications. Playfully light, clever, cool, quick and wicked.«

»One experiences dives in all kinds of depths, real and metaphoric ones.«
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»Enthralling, time critical.«
Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag

»Psychologically excitingly developed.«

»Zeh has done a good job: A book like a heavy swell.«

»As in the work of Patricia Highsmith we can ask ourselves afterwards when the real turn from normality into mania happened.«
Die Literarische Welt

»Written with a nervous and illusion-free intelligence, picking up on various German vibes, highly entertainining.«
ZEIT Online

»The book gains its narrative appeal in the way the two couples collide.«
Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Zeh plays with our expectations throughout. Initially she builds tension around the love triangle, but gradually we realise that NULLZEIT is going in another direction. Zeh is adept at describing the carelessness and perversities of the rich and famous. Like CORPUS DELICTI, this is a story about obsessions – this time with status, looks, and celebrity culture.«
The Independent on Sunday

»In her new novel NULLZEIT Juli Zeh convinces as a thriller author. Both under water and above, Zeh’s clever use of language makes this book an intellectual pleasure.«

»Juli Zeh accomplished a dreadfully beautiful psychological thriller.«

»With her novel about diving the author succeeded in writing an exciting and absolutely plausible novel.«

»NULLZEIT is gripping from the first to the last line.«

»Juli Zeh’s triangle drama can easily be compared with the perceptible amorality of the master Patricia Highsmith.« / »A profound thriller.«

»In an ingenious way Juli Zeh interweaves lies and truth within her story in which we become entangled like in a cobweb. Brilliant!«

»With a fine and smart diction, clearly more subtle than a simple crime novel, Juli Zeh composes her psychological thriller and uses the barren setting, the moonscape, from which her shady characters distinctly stand out. Zeh evokes complexities, chases her characters to the edge of the abyss and beyond. A highly thrilling and entertaining book.«
Westdeutscher Rundfunk

»With NULLZEIT Juli Zeh presents a gripping psychological thriller.«
3Sat Buchzeit (TV)

»Entertaining and exciting.«
Norddeutscher Rundfunk

»Juli Zeh's relationship thriller about power and guilt is excellent.«
Bild am Sonntag

»The reader faces the question what exactly he should still believe in. In this psychothriller NULLZEIT, quite in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith, judgement becomes difficult. The reader is being dragged into the deep and while emerging he realizes it is not possible to stay out of things.«
Welt Kompakt

»An accomplished psychological game.«
BZ am Sonntag

»With this book Juli Zeh managed writing an exciting and conclusive novel.«
Financial Times Deutschland

»This novel never submits to the maelstrom of the approximate. The descriptions (and sometimes the lies) are clear and the language is mostly deceptively open in a colloquial semi-flippant way that signals: no stress, no problem, no affectations. And in that Juli Zeh follows the smartest rule of the venerable perfectly good lie of life in an exotic place near the spring of a better existence.«
Welt Online

»Contemporary, extremely clever, smart.«
Frankfurter Rundschau & Berliner Zeitung

»As a novel specialist Juli Zeh knows how to build up tension - boredom is nowhere to be found. What the author proves is a sober realism, many powerful spots and a pictorial description of diving near an island in the Atlantic Ocean.«
Deutschlandradio Kultur

»The protagonist loses ground – just like the reader of this oppressive psycho thriller. Juli Zeh effortlessly makes philosophical dives alongside, doubling this pleasure.«

»Thrilling, surprising, erotic – an excellent psychological thriller.«

»You can hardly lay this book down.«
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung

»In her psychological thriller NULLZEIT Juli Zeh plays with different perspectives of a disastrous ménage à trois. «
Basler Zeitung

»Juli Zeh writes profoundly and thrillingly.«

»Confidently Zeh writes a psychological thriller that plays with inner freedom and imprisonment and skilfully captures the scenery both above and under water at the same time.«
Neue Presse Hannover

»In NULLZEIT Juli Zeh plays with her issues in an exciting, well structured thriller noir, practices the usage of divers’ jargon and the sensitivity of two characters, and develops much tension up to the final at sea.«
Abendzeitung München

»NULLZEIT is a clever, linguistically precise psychological thriller.«
Südwest Presse

»NULLZEIT is a carefully constructed chamber play for four persons. With laconic precision Juli Zeh describes how the pressure under water rises and diving masks fall down. What begins slowly and subtle as a kind of submarine ›elective affinity‹ becomes a psycho thriller à la Patricia Highsmith in the end. NULLZEIT is Zeh’s best novel so far.«

»An exciting psychological drama.«

»There are not many writers who construct a psychological thriller while thinking far beyond the plot. Juli Zeh is one of the exceptions. She writes thrillingly and intelligently in a language that uncannily dissembles normality.«
Sächsische Zeitung

»A breath-taking relationship thriller.«
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

»A stylistically brilliant triangle chamber thriller.«
Leipziger Volkszeitung

»A psychological thriller which shifts the borders of idea and reality in a highly subtle way. The chief attraction of the book is that in the end the reader looses all certainty about what happened.«
Wiener Zeitung

»Perfidious and very entertaining.«

»In her novel NULLZEIT Juli Zeh accomplishes a mixture of psychological thriller and underwater adventure.«
Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung

»Juli Zeh is a master of the evil. In her novels humans are challenged to the utmost. Armed with an admirable razor-sharp intelligence Zeh is tantalizing someone yet again - her pleasure for torture is never-ceasing.«
Nürnberger Zeitung

»A first-rate mind game. (…) It is the novel’s highlight that in the end the reader loses every certainty about what he read. «
Passauer Neue Presse

»Jui Zeh uses elements of crime novels as well as thrillers, therefore the novel has tension and psychological depth. But NULLZEIT is even more: a smart reflection about couples and careers.«

»One of the most exceptionally gifted authors of our times. (…) A thrilling read of a thoroughly plausible novel.«
Göttinger Tageblatt

»NULLZEIT takes place in the depth of the sea and in the depth of the subconsciousness. At the same time it is a love story and a thriller.«
Hessischer Rundfunk (hr2 kultur)

»Juli Zeh is a writer with a remarkable feeling for recent issues and contemporary characters.«
Bayrischer Rundfunk

»Sophisticated, crafty, with fatal intention.«
Radio Bremen

»You work up a sweat while reading. Especially under water this novel has scenes in which you temporarily loose your breath.«

»An eerily-beautiful psycho-piece. «
Zuhause Wohnen

»A pleasure to read thanks to Juli Zeh’s cool and clear language.«

»A brilliant psychological thriller.«

»Juli Zeh creates sharply cut scenes of a triangle relationship. It is exciting, amusing and despite all complexity not over the top. It reads summerly light.«
Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

»The uncanny and nail-biting relationship story is as exciting as a crime novel.«


»NULLZEIT is Juli Zeh’s fifth novel and as in all her novels crime and injustice are the silent protagonists who force people to act, who before kept still or just left. In barren volcanic landscape as well as under reflecting surfaces Juli Zeh develops seemingly effortlessly an oppressive scenario. In confined space, in greatest width, under pressure.«
House of Literature, Frankfurt

»There are not a lot of people of Juli Zeh’s kind. With NULLZEIT she surprises once more.«
Journal Frankfurt

»NULLZEIT turns into an exciting psychological thriller, an intense love story that satisfies the longing for the sea. All tricks though are not of much use when there is no intellect between the lines. And this is impressive in Juli Zeh’s books.
Giessener Allgemeine

»NULLZEIT remains thrilling until the end.«

»Zeh created a fascinating psychopath who suffers from the loss of identity. Juli Zeh’s terse, precise language causes an intense maelstrom. She achieves a lot with distressing simplicity.«
Badische Zeitung

»For lovers of profound novels.«

»A psychologically cunning thriller.«
Hamburger Abendblatt

»With NULLZEIT Juli Zeh has written an original and exciting mixture of psychological thriller and underwater adventure, dropout satire and prosperity criticism, persiflage on art and relationship drama.«
Mannheimer Morgen

Reviews from abroad

»NULLZEIT climaxes with a scene of splendid drama.«
The Guardian

»Zeh proves herself to be master of the subtle game with suggestion. Her writing points to her legal background – a passionate narration.«
De Morgen

»Zeh presents sharp-witted social criticism – thrilling yet easy to read.«
Vrij Nederland

»A frightening game, in which moral boundaries are flexible and truth remains unaccessable.«
De Telegraf

»Plongeant dans les lieux communs pour mieux les faire imploser, Juli Zeh brasse donc avec ce roman une action complexe comme bonjour. Une prise de risques jubilatoire.«
Le matricule des anges

»Un thriller ›sea and sun‹, avec en prime l’évocation de Lotte Hass, première plongeuse de fond dans les années 1940.«
madame FIGARO

»Peaufinant un thriller á la psychologie retorse, sur fond d’infidélité, l’ex-juriste révélée par SPIELTRIEB teste la frontière entre le bien et le mal et signe un jeu de massacre jubilatoire à la sauce Polanski et Haneke.«

»A ce talent affûté, elle ajoute ici une dimension de thriller pour offrir un polar efficace sur lequel plane le fantôme de Patricia Highsmith.«

»You could ask yourself who is manipulating who in this malicious and thrilling novel which plays with our preconceived ideas and completely throws us off track.«

»Juli Zeh, qui capte tout de suite la sympathie par sa franchise, son sourire en coin, son ton enjoué, est devenue une romancière reconnue et couronnée de nombreux prix.«

»Not without reason, Zeh is famous for her sharp-witted social criticim and pertinent observation.«

»A story about staying out of things and being dragged into the deep – dangerous and thrilling at the same time.«

»NULLZEIT could be a novel about freedom and confidence. Yet, the tension between the protagonists, an opressive atmosphere and a network of intrigues reveal a crime novel.«

»Zeh brilliantly shows how morality is tightly connected with human interaction.«
Volkskrant Boeken

»A must read.«
Knack Focus

»Juli Zeh belongs to the small group of authors, who produce bestsellers only.«
Financieel Dagblad

»Plainness reveals true mastership. Zeh deliberately limits her cast to only four protagonists to keep her plot clear and simple.«

»Zeh’s protagonists stand for the complexity of the mind.«

»The german author Juli Zeh is a literary phenomenon. NULLZEIT is her most accessible novel, thrillingly told in her unique brilliant style.«
Veronica Magazine

More titles by Juli Zeh

Juli Zeh: The Full Monty. Not a NovelJuli Zeh: Eagles and AngelsJuli Zeh: Even Silence Is a Sound. Travels through BosniaJuli Zeh: Gaming Instinct (Spieltrieb)Juli Zeh: A Dog Runs through the RepublicJuli Zeh: The Little Encyclopedia for Household DogsJuli Zeh: Gaming Instinct (stage version)Juli Zeh: SchilfJuli Zeh: Schilf (stage version)Juli Zeh: The Land of PeopleJuli Zeh: The Method (Corpus delicti)Juli Zeh: TreidelnJuli Zeh: Good Morning, Boys and GirlsJuli Zeh: At Night They Are Animals