Juli Zeh: The Method (Corpus delicti)

Jürgen Bansemer & Ute Nyssen Award

Juli Zeh
The Method (Corpus delicti)


272pp (46,600 words)

English sample translation (pdf)

>> Longlisted for the International IMPAC Award 2014
>> SPIEGEL Best Seller List

Mia Holl lives in a state governed by The Method, where good health is the highest duty of the citizen. Everyone must submit medical data and sleep records to the authorities on a monthly basis, and regular exercise is mandatory. Mia is young and beautiful, a successful scientist who is outwardly obedient but with an intellect that marks her as subversive. Convinced that her brother has been wrongfully convicted of a terrible crime, Mia comes up against the full force of a regime determined to control every aspect of its citizens' lives.

CORPUS DELICTI, set in the middle of the twenty-first century, deals with pressing questions: to what extent can the state curtail the rights of the individual? And does the individual have a right to resist?

Juli Zeh has written a thrilling and visionary book about our future, and our present.

Full English translation available

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

Brazil - Record
France - Actes Sud
Korea – Minumsa
Turkey - Metis
UK/Commonwealth excl Canada - HarvillSecker/Random House

firm rights - optioned
audio book - Der Audio Verlag
paperback – Random House/btb
school book edition – Klett

Previously published (rights reverted)
Bulgaria – Atlantis
Croatia - Fraktura
Denmark - Samleren/Rosinante
Italy - Ponte Alle Grazie
The Netherlands - Ambo|Anthos
Poland - W.A.B.
Spain (Castilian World) - Random House Mondadori
Sweden - Weyler
Taiwan (Chinese complex) – Linking Publishing

book club - Büchergilde

» Contact


»With CORPUS DELICTI, Juli Zeh has become the female George Orwell of the present.«

»Juli Zeh is an olympic narrator who regards her characters from an extremely wide angle. (...) This author excels in creating experimental set-ups, sharp-witted intellectual ping-pong games, told with a narrative verve and sanguinity that is nowadays only to be found (yet slightly more awkward) in the works of Bernhard Schlink, and that Friedrich Dürrenmatt once brought to perfection.«

»The book of the hour. (...) A work of prophetic historic pessimism, CORPUS DELICTI is closer to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than to Orwell’s 1984. Juli Zeh pictures the lapse into brutality with a strange coldness. She is an analytic, apocalyptical writer in the tradition of Yevgeny Zamyatin, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick. Her literary form is a juridical tragedy turned into prose, a treatise played out in various roles, a science fiction crime scenario, a fast-paced dispute.«

»Juli Zeh’ s CORPUS DELICTI is a negative utopia that hits the nerve of our deeply frightened society.«
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Exciting like a crime thriller, and rational like an intellectual debate (...) It reads like an ambitious yet never too demanding synthesis of different genres: science fiction and brother-and-sister-story, anti-utopia and legal drama.«
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Juli Zeh has written a novel of razor-sharp intelligence and compelling logic, offering a highly alarming scenario: Noble environmental goals and health care politics taking a life of their own and descending into brutaliy, a prevention state turned into a prohibition state, resistance against the ›system‹ rising in quick-witted citizens like Mia. A thought-provoking, utterly contemporary work of fiction!«
ARD druckfrisch (TV show)

»CORPUS DELICTI is a bitter parable on the totalitarian state, showing a distorted picture of our possible future.«
Norddeutscher Rundfunk

»The plot device of CORPUS DELICTI lies in thinking through the drifts and looming threats of the present right to the end.«
Süddeutsche Zeitung

»A timely parable raising the question of how far the human body may be incorporated into or suppressed by the body of the state.«
Frankfurter Rundschau

»A full-force debate of existential questions revealing the present condition of a society weakened by nihilism and the loss of values. (...) Not in a long time has a novel hit so close to the central nerve of society. Her courage cannot be praised strongly enough.«
Frankfurter Neue Presse

»She continues to think where the current debate ends, between fitness craze and the popular sports of a visit to the doctor.«
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

»Juli Zeh is one among few authors that occasionally muster the courage to take a philosophical stance.«

»Her signature style is what makes this author so worth reading: Effervascent prose, showing political as well as philosophical commitment, her superior command of language, flowering imagery and imagination, and a dramaturgical talent honed by Aristoteles. (...) CORPUS DELICTI is another stroke of genius by Juli Zeh.«
Wiener Zeitung

»A delightful book, rich in lyrical images, astute thoughts and (...) method.«
Kleine Zeitung

»CORPUS DELICTI points to the dangers arising from the forced perfection of all personal and social spheres. (...) Where salvation is measured against outward appearances, souls are doomed to wither, and humans turn into machines designed for obedience – stone-hearted timeservers that show no sign of protest or resistance.«
Titel Magazin

»An iridescent construct of ideas.«
Der Bund

»This is the strength of this novel: that it offers material to think about to the smallest detail. And that it identifies the present propagation of health by inflating it to its extreme. Where does prevention end and where does paternalism begin? (...) Zeh creates a dazzling intellectual edifice in CORPUS DELICTI. She does what she can do best: She lets her characters fence with arguments. And thus hits the target.«
St. Galler Tagblatt

»Juli Zeh plays to her admirable strengths in her new novel: technical professionalism, high sensitivity for language and the intellectual ability to reflect.«
Oberösterreichische Nachrichten

»Juli Zeh succeeds with a political novel of the future.«
Junge Welt

»In CORPUS DELICTI, a young woman must stand trial before a jury court. The charges: ›excessive love, excessive intelligence, and excessive mental independence‹. These very attributes describe the outstanding qualities of the writer Juli Zeh. (...) A trained jurist herself, again and again she comments on sociopolitical and cultural problems, taking a vehement and competent stand.«
Gerty Spies Award, Jury Statement

»Juli Zeh tackles explosive topics, and she depicts them with linguistic aplomb. Her latest novel CORPUS DELICTI pays tribute to the virtuosity and passion Zeh applies to the literary treatment of social upheaval in the tension-filled area between individual liberty and state power.«
Solothurn Literature Award, Jury Statement

Reviews from abroad:

»In our own society we’re already well on this highway to hell, skid-marked with laws and rules to keep us safe from the nastiness out there, from the nastiness others might do to us, from ourselves. Cult German author Juli Zeh just pushes the idea a little.«
SFX Magazine

»Juli Zeh’s novel is an Orwellian vision of the near future in which civilisation adheres to the stark principles of 'The Method'. (…) Tightly plotted, philosophically enquiring and disturbingly plausible.«
The List Magazine

»Set in the mid-21st century, this novel by Juli Zeh presents a chilling vision of a dystopian future that plays on our current obsession with health and mass surveillance.«
The Independent

»A rather typical dystopian thriller that sees the state as the usual enemy of the individual freedom, Zeh’s novel is a reaction to today’s injunction to save he state money by being as healthy as possible. Her writing is thoughtful and intelligent, though, and her main character Mia is an intellectual heroine as much as a physical rebel.«
Sunday Herald

»The Europe of Juli’s CORPUS DELICTI is not a dystopia in the usual sense, being too clean and fragrant and safe. In many ways it’s a utopia, just one in which most of us wouldn’t want to live.«

CORPUS DELICTI has been compared to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. CORPUS DELICTI is a sort of hyperintellectualised Hans Fallada Novel, pitiless in its compassion for people who find themselves compromised by the system (facism in Fallada’s case: nannyism in Zeh’s). Three years since its first publication in German, Zeh’s novel is even more relevant to our over-structured, over-quantified times.«
Simon Ings, The Guardian

»This is a brilliant, disturbing and wildly imaginative picture of the nanny state run mad; how far should the State be allowed to poke his nose into a citizen’s business?«
The Times

»This is a closely argued book, and Juli Zeh's rhetoric is top-notch. (…) CORPUS DELICTI has been compared to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. And it is true that Kramer and Winston Smith's nemesis O'Brien would make a heart-stopping double act. Better to say that The Method is a sort of hyperintellectualised Hans Fallada novel, pitiless in its compassion for people who find themselves compromised by the system (fascism in Fallada's case; nannyism in Zeh's).«
The Guardian

»In Sally-Ann Spencer’s superb translation from German, Juli Zeh’s novel gives form to a dystopia that remains hauntingly recognizable.«

»D’une écriture froide et clinique, Juli Zeh, narratrice à l’omniscience très ›Big Brother‹, suit Mia dans son combat, qui la mène au tribunal, puis en prison. (...) CORPUS DELICTI, comme tout bon roman de science-fiction, explore moins les virtualités du futur que les maux et les dérives du présent en leur offrant un miroir grossissant.«
les inrockuptibles

»In its appeal to raised awareness and political engagement, the novel is an important contribution to German dystopias.«

»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.«

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: Decompression (Nullzeit)Juli Zeh: TreidelnJuli Zeh: Good Morning, Boys and GirlsJuli Zeh: At Night They Are Animals