Simon Urban: Plan D

long listed for the IMPAC 2015

Top Ten Best Crime Novels (ZEIT)

long listed for the Hotlist
Award 2011 (Best Books from Independent Publishers)

Stuttgart Crime Award for Best Debut Crime Novel in the German language

Simon Urban
Plan D


552pp (110,000 words)

English sample translation (pdf)

French sample translation (pdf)

October 2011. While West Berlin enjoys all the trappings of capitalism, on the crowded, polluted, Eastern side of the Wall, the GDR is facing bankruptcy. The ailing government's only hope lies in economic talks with the West, but then an ally of the GDR's chairman is found murdered – and all the clues suggest that his killer came from within the Stasi.

Detective Martin Wegener is assigned to the case, but, with the future of East Germany hanging over him, Wegener must work with the West German police if he is to find the killer, even if it means investigating the Stasi themselves. It is a journey that will take him from Stasi meeting rooms to secret prisons as he begins to unravel the identity of both victim and killer, and the meaning of the mysterious Plan D.

At a fast pace with a good dash of irony, Simon Urban tells a page-turning story of political and personal betrayal, about searching in vain for truth and love. PLAN D is a politically charged East-West thriller dealing with the great mistakes of the twentieth century – and how they live on to this day.

»PLAN D is a funny book and a genuine page-turner. But it’s also a book about the nature of dictatorships. It shows why dictatorship is possible, how dictatorship is done and what it does to people. You start reading a crime novel set in a fictitious East Germany in the year 2011 and in the end you’ve read a reckoning with the great ideological catastrophes of the twentieth century – not as a historical essay, but from a vivid insider’s perspective.«
Juli Zeh

Rights sold

Bulgaria - Atlantis
Denmark - Sohn/Lindhardt og Ringhof
France - Éditions Stock
Italy – Keller Editore
Japan - Hayakawa Publishing Inc.
The Netherlands - Signatuur
UK/Commonwealth - Harvill Secker/Random House

paperback - Random House
film rights (optioned) – Zum Goldenen Lamm

Previously published (rights reverted)
Czech Republic - Odeon/Euromedia
Norway - Forlaget Press
Spain (Castilian World) - Grijalbo/Penguin Random House
Romania - RAO
audio book - Random House Audio

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»PLAN D surprises with enormous power, literary fantasy and brilliant creativity that will capture and delight every reader. (…) The novel is distinguished by a vast variety of characters, settings, episodes, situations, sex and violence – it has everything you could wish for in a good thriller which is a close relative to the genre of the social novel. (…). Let's rejoice in this new author.«

»Simon Urban has a fresh voice destined for narrating. (...) He has taken on a major project, and has risen up to the challenge with linguistic verve.«
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»A nice ›what-if‹ experiment - a bit of a droll story, a bit of a thriller, and a hint of morality. Chuckling is allowed.«

»Urban perfectly handles the rules of genre. ... Exciting and winding, very entertaining and extremely diabolic.«
Berliner Morgenpost

»Powerfully eloquent and highly exciting. (...) A fulminant debut. (...) Serious and entertaining, political and intimate, brutal and harshly affectionate. You devour the 552 pages of this book greedily, only to realize that, sadly, this literary feat has come to an end. Fortunately though, Germany can still produce brilliant writers.«

Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag

»A German world class thriller. (...) Urban succeeds with the uncommon combination of an enthralling but also amply comical thriller, which at the same time reveals quite a few truths about the political reality of the federal republic. (...) Linguistically virtuous and with a great sense for twists and surprises. Absolutely entertaining.«

Focus online

»That this book is absolutely convincing, also beyond its setting, is due to the fact that 35-year-old Urban is a master of literary composition. (…) Funny and pointed.«

»Simon Urban's novel not only provides a fancy idea but also a complete model in which even the smallest detail is considered. Urban really has thought of everything. (...) The whole setting which turns a good thriller into the literary twin of contemporary social novel.«
Deutschlandfunk, Büchermarkt

»Evokes the great Cold War adventure novels by John le Carré. (…) Simply brilliant. A must-read.«
Westdeutscher Rundfunk »Aktuelle Stunde« (TV)

»A funny and thrilling novel.«
die tageszeitung

»Within his terrificly designed world of ›what if ...?‹, Simon Urban flexes literature’s muscles and makes it appear like the echo of our present. A stunning debut as we have not seen in a long time! A novel ranking next to Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum in its political and literary intensity. (...) Featuring a breathtaking, fast-paced crime plot, PLAN D is a political thriller that, nimbly yet with a sardonic eye, explores the shallows and depths of the entire system.«

Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

»Full of ironic twists, allusions and references to the thriller genre.«
Die Welt kompakt

»A brilliant satire about Capitalism worn down by self-doubt.«
ZDF-Kultur, Magazin DER MARKER

»An East/West German thriller featuring double agents and currywurst: keyed-up, obscene, wildly entertaining.«


»PLAN D is a truly captivating thriller taking you on a mad rollercoaster ride.«
Börsenverein, Buchbesprechungstage Oktober 2011

»What a pity that PLAN D already ends after 552 pages.«
Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine Zeitung

»Plenty of great and entertaining ideas. Satirical and extremely funny (...). This absurdly realistic political thriller has charm and it works both as thriller and social satire.«
Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR 2)

»PLAN D is a great book. It is so bizarre that reading it is pure pleasure, although your breath will be caught every now and then. It is brilliantly written, with a story that absorbs the reader and doesn't let him go.«
Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR 1 Radio)

»In a very imaginative way and with all consequences, Simon Urban realizes his both obvious and surprising scenario of a contemporary GDR. The book is very entertaining to read, leading the reader through a world which is both strangely familiar but also foreign and ailing.«
Westdeutscher Rundfunk

»Fascinating, how Simon Urban (...) tries to imagine how the GDR would have developed, if history had taken a different turn in the year 1989. (...) A very entertaining dystopia: enthralling like a spy thriller and amusing like a satire.«

Berliner Zeitung

»PLAN D is a spectacular book, assertive, nastily entertaining. It crushes all hope for a feasibility of socialism and offers an extremely convincing fictional scenario.«
Stuttgarter Zeitung

»A thrillingly and imaginatively developed thriller set in an alternative Germany. The abundance of details that characterize the 'present' GDR, and the logic and consistency with which the story is developed are impressive and convincing.«

Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR 5)

»Simon Urban’s love for detail and ironic descriptions of the ›modern‹ GDR are fun to read and a masterpiece of imagination: before the eyes of the reader Urban creates a world that really could have existed. He describes the colours, the smells, the architecture and atmosphere of a late communist Berlin with a clarity and precision, which are reminiscent of Jean-Paul Jeunet’s movies or Neo Rauch’s paintings.«

Hessischer Rundfunk Online

»PLAN D is a political thriller set against the background of counterfactual history. (...) Simon Urban has lovingly created an enhanced version of the GDR. (...) For his idea to appoint the former Federal Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, as leader of the Stasi, the author should be decorated with the traditional medal ›Hero of the GDR‹.«
Der Tagesspiegel

»This book has to be made into a movie.«


»A creepy ›what if‹-scenario. Those who still doubt the boon of reunification after finishing this book cannot be helped.«
Bild am Sonntag

»The best German crime novel. (...) A brilliant idea, a fantastic book.«

»A crazy and brilliant scenario.«
NDR Kultur

»Thrilling and entertaining.«
Freie Presse

»With PLAN D Simon Urban wrote an excessively told agent thriller leaving nothing to be desired.«
Südhessen Woche

»Simon Urban knows a lot about the GDR and he cleverly combines the literary techniques of the grotesque, satire, and historic colportage.«
Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR Figaro), Crime Novel of the Month

»Urban’s debut is a literary play of thoughts that evokes novels like Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the high Castle or Robert Harris’ Fatherland, which pictured a world after the Nazis had won the World War II. (...) Simon Urban alienates the world as we know it to make us see more clearly. The seemingly unlimited freedom that we enjoy today, the abnormal consumerism of our times, the influence of the energy corporations, and the blindness towards Socialist and Capitalist ideologies.«

»Terrifically satirical.«

Frankfurter Neue Presse

»Here it is, the long-awaited novel about German reunification, well-researched, entertaining, and told with plenty of chuzpe.«
Bücher (starred review)

»Apart from the thriller-like plot, which evokes Cold War scenarios by authors like Colin Forbes or John le Carré, PLAN D draws its zest from science fiction fantasies. Here, the GDR is the global mobile phone market leader. Their Stasi-Phone ›Minsk‹ beats any Apple product (...) and the Trabi-successor ›Phobos Agitator‹ closes the gap on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Simon Urban’s debut probably is the perfect version of the long awaited German reunification novel.«

Westdeutscher Rundfunk

»Simon Urban is a young author who risked a lot and received the maximum in return. His novel, which might best be described as a political thriller, will cause quite a stir.«

»Simon Urban's debut novel is a spy novel and a satire on socialism at the same time. For a long time there has not been a literary debut so full of ideas and superb stylistic escapades. (…) One can hardly wait for his protagonist's next adventure.«

»A political thriller in a class of its own. The cleverly devised plot offers high tension and consistently provides surprise effects. (…) PLAN D is finally: a postmodern construct in which everything is possible and ambiguous. A game with movable elements, a mix of style and genre, accessing the inventory of light fiction and thriller as well as elements of comedy and grotesqueness. (…) A dazzling spectacle ready made for the movies. (…) Urban is a ray of hope for the new German literature.«

»PLAN D is full of surprises, unfolding the credible scenario of a GDR that continued to exist.«

»Urban not only surprises by a telling thrilling story but also illustrates a deeply lonesome destiny in the character of Wegener.«

»This thriller is great fun!«
Westfälischer Anzeiger

»It’s not the first time that we see a state that has long disappeared from the political map being revived in a literary what-if-experiment. But we haven’t seen it done yet in such a sweeping manner.«
Sächsische Zeitung

»PLAN D very cleverly combines a thriller plot with a lesson in virtual historical fiction. (…) Urban sets the stage for a sumptious satire. An amazing debut, a major achievement.«
Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR EinsLive), Book of the Week

»Perfect entertainment.«
Berliner Morgenpost

»A brilliant debut. (...) Certainly of equal rank with George Orwell’s classic 1984, but this one is even more entertaining.«


»Urban's novel is a highly entertaining satire, also on present conditions.«

»A fulminant dystopian satire in form of a thriller.«

Die Presse

»Lovers of language will get high on Urban's words.«
Nürnberger Zeitung

»One of last year's most unusual thrillers. Terrific!«
Wien live

»Simon Urban's debut is enthralling up to the last page. (…) PLAN D is not only a thriller full of conspiracies and twists, but also offers insights into the realistic scenario of a parallel world. «

»A fast-paced and ludicrous debut novel, absolutely amazing. Simon Urban he is a born narrator of exuberant fantasy. (…) He fuses comedy with agent thriller. His characters are ingeniously created.«
Schweriner Volkszeitung

»This fictitious sequel to the actually existing socialism with the means of imagination and without any nostalgia for the former East Germany is appealing, and not devious.«

»PLAN D is a political satire, tragicomedy and detective story, embedded in the negative of a social Utopia. Urban provides a biting persiflage, a sarcastic version of a German-reunification-novel.«
Offenbacher Post

»With PLAN D, Simon Urban definitely had a lucky strike. He manages to combine a thrilling and diversified crime plot, an inventive story and some inconvenient truths with humorous ambience while doing justice to all these components.«

»Mockingly ironic, amusing, thrilling, counterfactual and just brilliant.«

Reviews from abroad:

»A modern-day Raymond Chandler, Urban's remarkable genre-busting detective novel is set in Berlin in October 2011 – bit with a difference. In PLAN D, the East German republic still exists. (…) The whole novel is beautifully and imaginatively written. (...) But what makes the book so very special is the exuberantly portrayed vision of East Berlin under a collapsing socialist system. (…) Urban raises questions about German history and about the integrity of our political systems, combining them with a real page-turner of a plot.«
New Books in German

»PLAN D is a brilliant thriller in the vein of Robert Harris's Fatherland and John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which imagines a world in which the Berlin Wall never fell.«
Crimetime UK &

»A superb reading fun 22 years after reunification!«
Cicero Online

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