Dance by the Canal

by Kerstin Hensel

Original price was: £12.00.Current price is: £7.19.

A tragicomic satire from the heart of East Germany. Shortlisted for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation 2019.

Gabriela grows up in the East German town of Leibnitz. Her father is a famous surgeon, her mother a respected society hostess. The girl, however, struggles to fulfil their expectations. She shows no talent as a violinist and, worse, she fails to choose the right friends at school. When her father falls out of favour with the communists, Gabriela drops out of school. Eventually she ends up living beneath a canal bridge. Then the Wall falls. Can Gabriela seize a second chance in the new, united, Germany?

Translated from the German by Jen Calleja.

120pp, paperback with flaps, £12
ISBN 978-1-908670-38-0
Publication date: 18 December 2017

Press & Reviews

'A vibrant and striking translation of a wonderful satirical coming of age novella exploring the lasting consequences of German division.' - Schlegel-Tieck Prize Jury 

'A pitch-perfect English translation ... the book's rich, complex treatment of unstable borders - a vanishing geopolitical line between East and West, shifting socioeconomic categories, and above all the violated boundaries of Gabriela's psyche and body - makes it a brilliant choice for the series.' - Jane Yager, The TLS 

‘Hensel’s writing is often striking – Gabriela’s mother’s grief is ‘a siren [which] wailed from inside her’ – and her characters vividly realised.’ - Susan Osborne, A Life in Books

‘Hensel’s process of holding up for scrutiny, as though with forceps, the past and present of East and West, of a unified Germany, is highly original, dismissing categories, easy judgement or any naturalness in the transition.’ - Mika Provata-Carlone, Bookanista

‘30 years of East German history narrated with laconic irony.’ - Die Zeit

'An intense story... grotesque, macabre, poetic.' - Neues Deutschland

About The Book


Kerstin Hensel was born in 1961 in Karl-Marx Stadt in former East Germany and studied in Leipzig. She has published over 30 books: novels, short story collections, poetry and plays. She has won numerous prizes, including the Anna-Seghers prize as well as the Lessing prize for her entire body of work.


Jen Calleja is a writer, literary translator from German, editor and musician. She has translated book-length works for Fitzcarraldo Editions and Bloomsbury, as well as short fiction, essays, articles and poetry. Her debut poetry collection Serious Justice was published by Test Centre. She is columnist for literature in translation for The Quietus and translator in residence at the Austrian Cultural Forum London. She is also acting editor of New Books in German and editor of Anglo-German arts journal Verfreundungseffekt.