Friedrich Hölderlin Award for Emerging Talent
Ernst Toller Award
Even Silence Is a Sound. Travels through Bosnia
English sample translation (pdf)
»Juli Zeh is one of the most exciting voices to emerge in German writing in recent years.«
Juli Zeh sets out alone for Bosnia in the summer of 2001, with only her dog for company. She passes through a ravaged landscape, a theatre of war with its countless minefields, making it still the most dangerous terrain in Europe. The result is one of the most penetrating pieces of travel writing, by an author who shows »that portraying the truth can still be worthwhile«.
The journey takes her to Jajce, Sarajevo, Mostar, Ravno, Trebinje, Sanski Most, Travnike, Tuzla, Srebrenica, Banja Luka, Bihac: war-torn places in a Bosnia now at peace, wounded landscapes, cities that still have a magical beauty, places teeming with history and personal stories. With the eyes of Juli Zeh war-shaken Bosnia turns out to be the uncut diamond of the European Continent.
»Once again I see what the world has in store beyond superficial consumerism: no train, no uniformed servicemen, instead, heat and gypsies spread out over a dusty expanse, people living in tent cities consisting of tarpaulins taken from U.N. lorries and stretched across poles, in containers and in ancient rusty-brown Daimlers resting directly on the ground. Mothers of children, camera-shy, their faces invisible beneath straggling black hair. Sifting through dustbins. Goats led by owners with pock-marked skin. People walking through vast Muslim cemeteries, where the simple, angular gravestones stand in the tall grass like giant white pencil erasers. And then we are in the centre of town.
I feel lost, detached from all memories. I am a child again and grow up in the space of just a few hours, astonished by what the world is like. Who would have thought it.
Everything always used to be so complete and whole. Tomorrow was Christmas, I think to myself: this journey is without a present, inside my head there is only an imperfect tense, a ›used to be‹, and even for myself there is no ›I‹, but the third person, my thoughts sound to me as if in some distant future someone else is talking about me and this first day in Mostar.«
Serialized in DIE ZEIT
Special recommendation SWR-List of Best Books
Like her first published book ADLER UND ENGEL Juli Zeh’s new work is surprising and fascinating and impressively affirms »that the author has opened wide the door to a literary future«
Turkey - Metis
paperback – Random House/btb
Previously published (rights reverted)
Bosnia - Dani
Croatia - Durieux
The Netherlands - Van Gennep
Poland - Znak
Slovenia - Cankarjeva Zalozba
»Juli Zeh manages successfully to transfer the wounded, shattered Bosnia for a moment into a precarious state of poetic grace.«
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
»A view that opens up eyes.«
»An amazing piece of literature. In the tradition of Tucholsky and Wolfgang Koeppen.«
»Her book opens our eyes for the mystery of wars and a precarious peace apart all common ideologies, trying to find an answer and a guilty person for everything.«
»This genre of travel prose allows Juli Zeh to show what she is masterly at: precise writing.«
»Juli Zeh breaks all literary genre and creates a little treasure.«
Frankfurter Neue Presse
»Smart-witted Juli Zeh is one of the greatest talents in recent years.«
»Juli Zeh is the first author for whom nothing could be further than ideologic shadow-boxing or intellectual blurredness. Her travel prose is absolutely non-kitsch, very intelligent and with a wealth of ideas. All told in her beautiful succinct and precise language which delighted us in ADLER UND ENGEL.«
»With this astonishing and very rewarding text Juli Zeh emphatically confirms her great and unconventional talent.«
»A small, most excellent masterpiece.«
»A new, rational and most enlightening view on the Balkan.«
»The failure of politics has rarely been made clearer by a representative of the younger generation as through Juli Zeh’s debut novel ADLER UND ENGEL.« She describes the despair of a whole generation »in the face of the cynical combination of politics, profit and crime.«
In the opinion of the jury, Juli Zeh, with her description of her travels in war shattered Bosnia, DIE STILLE IST EIN GERÄUSCH, published in 2002, continues the tradition of Ernst Toller’s socio-critical and political travel prose into the present.
Ernst-Toller-Award, The Jury
»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.«