Startlingly raw and deeply moving, this extraordinary debut novel from one of Germany’s most ambitious writers is full of passion, hope and despair. 

Rico, Mark, Paul and Daniel were 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in autumn 1989. Growing up in Leipzig at the time of reunification, they dream of a better life somewhere beyond the brewery quarter. Every night they roam the streets, partying, rioting, running away from their fears, their parents and the future, fighting to exist, killing time. They drink, steal cars, feel wrecked, play it cool, longing for real love and true freedom. 

While We Were Dreaming was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023, announced on March 14 2023.

The International Booker Prize 2023
Published by
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publication date
Clemens Meyer

Clemens Meyer

About the Author

Clemens Meyer was born in 1977 in Halle and lives in Leipzig, Germany. He worked as a security guard, forklift driver and construction worker before becoming a published novelist.
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Katy Derbyshire

Katy Derbyshire

About the Translator

Katy Derbyshire, originally from London, has lived in Berlin for over 20 years. She helped to establish the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, awarded annually since 2017.
More about Katy Derbyshire

While We Were Dreaming skilfully captures with pathos and anger the sense of what happens when all the certainties of the grown-up world evaporate and the future is up for grabs. The story of German unification as it did not appear on your TV screen.

— The International Booker Prize 2023 panel of judges on 'While We Were Dreaming'

Other nominated books by Clemens Meyer

Bricks and Mortar

Other nominated books by Katy Derbshire

Bricks and Mortar