Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press


by Takis Wuerger Translated from German by Liesl Schillinger

From the internationally bestselling author of The Club comes a new novel of love and betrayal, set in Berlin in 1942

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 208
  • Publication Date March 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4918-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 208
  • Publication Date March 09, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4917-6
  • Dimensions 5.625" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date March 09, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4919-0
  • US List Price $25.00

In 1942, Friedrich, an even-keeled but unworldly young man, arrives in Berlin from bucolic Switzerland with dreams of becoming an artist. At a life drawing class, he is hypnotized by the beautiful model, Kristin, who soon becomes his energetic yet enigmatic guide to the bustling and cosmopolitan city, escorting him to underground jazz clubs where they drink cognac, dance, and kiss. The war feels far away to Friedrich, who falls in love with Kristin as they spend time together in his rooms at the Grand Hotel, but as the months pass, the mood in the city darkens as the Nazis tighten their hold on Berlin, terrorizing any who are deemed foes of the Reich.

One day, Kristin comes back to Friedrich’s rooms in tears, battered and bruised. She tells him that her real name is Stella, and that she is Jewish, passing for Aryan. More disturbing still, she has troubling connections with the Gestapo that Friedrich does not fully understand. As Friedrich confronts Stella’s unimaginable choices, he finds himself woefully unprepared for the history he is living through. Based in part on a real historical character, Stella sets a tortured love story against the backdrop of wartime Berlin, and powerfully explores questions of naiveté, young love, betrayal, and the horrors of history.

Tags Literary

Praise for Stella:

“A feckless dilettante, Friedrich arrives in Berlin on the day after New Year’s 1942. ‘I was a young man with money and a Swiss passport,’ he tells us in Liesl Schillinger’s elegant translation, ‘who had thought he could live in the middle of this war without having anything to do with it’ . . . For a time, that might even seem possible . . . [but] very soon his acquaintance with an S.S. officer named Tristan, and his romance with Tristan’s impulsive, elusive friend, the Stella of the novel’s title, will inspire a different kind of search. What is the connection between this young woman and Tristan? Why is she so troubled? Can Friedrich believe anything she tells him?”—Alida Becker, New York Times Book Review

“There is something of a Candide about the young hero, as he wanders guilelessly around Berlin, avoiding air raids, spending money on treats and excursions for the girl he has fallen for. But Stella is also a coming-of-age novel, and in this case adulthood brings not only an understanding of terrible events but also of the duplicity of strangers . . . An elegant novel . . . Liesl Schillinger’s thoughtful translation from the German original of 2019 perfectly conveys the sense of menace that hangs over it.”—Caroline Moorehead, Times Literary Supplement

“Told in sparse, tight prose . . . An unsettling, atmospheric read.”—Antonia Senior, Times (UK)

“Serves as a reminder of the depths of depravity and evil of the Holocaust.”—Gordon Arnold, Winnipeg Free Press

“Spare, affecting . . . Würger skillfully intertwines fact and fiction . . . Subtle, thought-provoking.”—Publishers Weekly

“A powerful, visceral portrait of individuals caught up in a pivotal year during Nazi rule.”—Booklist

“Takis Würger is someone out of the ordinary and this book is like him: powerful, strong, painful. Stella is a book from which we do not emerge unscathed and in which he explores the depths of the human soul. I stayed in this book for a long time after turning the final page. Würger is surely one of the most important writers of our generation.”—Joël Dicker, New York Times bestselling author of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

“With its deceptively simple yet quietly elegant style, Stella takes us into a world which we assume perhaps that we know, the Berlin of the war years. To our surprise, however, we discover that we do not know it at all. Here is a love story set among jazz clubs and artist studios yet inevitably enacted in the shadow of the Gestapo. It’s a story which shows us something new about a nightmare which is always in danger of seeming too familiar.”—Lawrence Osborne, author ofThe Glass Kingdom

“I was somewhat skeptical when I began this book, but it gripped and surprised me, and by the end I was full of admiration.”—Daniel Kehlmann, International Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Tyll

“For those who wish to find in history a key to our absolutist present.”Il Giornale (Italy)

Stella is a book you can hardly put down. You will read it in just a few hours, whatever you might have planned… It has a style which in a certain way echoes Hemingway’s war reporting—you might call it ‘melancholy heroism.’ But it reads very well, you can’t say otherwise.”Die Welt (Germany)

“Würger writes in a quiet, authentic style; he writes without mercy but never without empathy, never in a way that is contrived or lurid.”—Jüdische Allgemeine (Germany)

“Stella shows how war and love sometimes bring up the worst in a human being, and how much pain love can cause.”—Metro (Netherlands)

“Würger avoids any hint of pathos, writing instead in clearly chiseled, artfully sparse sentences… It is the escalating state of emergency that explains everything in this slimmed down, concise novel.”Abendzeitung München (Germany)

Praise for The Club:

“The gritty subject matter is juxtaposed against a prose style we tend to associate with a different kind of novel—it reads more like a coming-of-age story than a thriller. Würger’s writing is mannered; it often has an otherworldly, fable-like quality.”—Adelle Waldman, New York Times Book Review

“Würger’s debut was a bestseller in his native Germany. Its universal themes, brilliantly depicted world and taut storytelling constitute a recipe for further success… The Club starts out as a poignant coming-of-age tale and then morphs into an intelligent, fast-paced thriller that scrutinizes class divides and gender imbalance… Würger serves up visceral thrills with boxing bouts. But he delivers real knockout blows as Hans goes deeper undercover and learns ‘what humans are at heart: predators.’”—Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A timely, beautifully paced novel about class and prestige in the #MeToo era… In a campus novel that echoes the detective structure of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Würger cycles between each character’s voice to brilliantly evoke the medieval unreality of Cambridge and the almost comical wealth of the students. There is much to dissect in this concise and dramatic tale.”Booklist

“A young man infiltrates a secret university club and discovers a dangerous secret… The club is full of rich, privileged young men well-versed in secrets, debauchery, and something far more sinister… The novel’s complicated ending touches on the problem of justice and redemption: who gets it, who deserves it, and its human cost. A sparse, cutting debut in which violence begets violence begets healing.”Kirkus Reviews

“Distinguished German journalist Würger, who broke some bones boxing for a year at Cambridge, offers a powerful and provoking story.”Library Journal

“A cunning, sinuous tale, Takis Würger’s The Club is so wildly entertaining that, at first, it’s easy to miss its deeper mysteries. But, as it unfolds, brutal truths about class and gender and violence emerge, take hold and shudder through the novel’s final pages.”—Megan Abbott, best-selling author of Give Me Your Hand and You Will Know Me

The Club, Takis Würger’s exquisite debut, is a novel as rare as a phoenix, a story both beautifully told and white-knuckle thrilling. A tale of pain, privilege and revenge, The Club reads like something both mythical and modern, a fable whose pages demand to be turned.”—Christopher J. Yates, author of Black Chalk and Grist Mill Road