Stories From Behind The Berlin Wall

Anna Funder

Published: 1 September 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781847083357


In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In Stasiland, winner of the 2004 Samuel Johnson Prize, Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in fifty East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women. She meets Miriam, who as a sixteen-year-old might have started the Third World War, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary 'Mik Jegger' of the East, who the authorities once declared - to his face - to 'no longer exist'.

About the author

Image of Anna Funder

Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer and a radio and television producer. In 1997 she was writer-in-residence at the Australia Centre in Potsdam, Germany. She lives in Sydney with her husband and family. Her first novel Stasiland was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2003 and in Australia for The Age Book of the Year and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards for non-fiction. Stasiland won the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2004. More about the author


‘A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history ... Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth’ Rachel Cusk



‘A journey into the bizarre, scary, secret history of the former East Germany that is both relevant and riveting’ Anthony Sattin

‘Anna Funder's Stasiland demonstrates that great, original reporting is still possible. She found her subject in East Germany, went for it bravely and delivers the goods in a heartbreaking, beautifully written book. A classic for sure’ Claire Tomalin

‘Compelling... A fascinating book made all the more affecting by Funder's writing, making non-fiction read like a novel’ SJ Watson ‘My six best books’

‘Funder is a superb interviewer ... she truly excels in the rendering of her sessions with former Stasi employees.This foreign perspective adds a unique dimension to Stasiland. Funder seems to be asking all the questions East and West Germans should be asking themselves. In the book's stunning opening, she describes herself being hungover in Berlin and bumping into things on the street: "Tomorrow bruises will develop on my skin, like a picture from a negative." It is a perfect description of the astonishing effect Stasiland has on the reader: a slow-motion understanding of decades of human pain and cruelty’ Elena Lappin

‘Funder skilfully deploys fictional techniques to make the material jump off the page: naturalistic dialogue, fully-realised characters with their own plotlines. It conveys a grim atmosphere - but there are flashes of humour too’ Brandon Robshaw

‘In Stasiland, her first book, [Funder] spiritedly plunges herself into "this land gone wrong" and attempts to understand a regime like the German Democratic Republic through the stories of ordinary men and women, "not just the activists or the famous writers". The result is a terrific act of life-giving to a people - 17 million of them - who have hitherto lacked not just a voice but an audience’ Nicholas Shakespeare

‘Superb... Funder skilfully deploys fictional techniques to make the material jump off the page: crafted scenes with their own story-arcs, naturalistic dialogue, fully-realised characters with their own plotlines... Vividly conveyed [with] flashes of humour too’ Brandon Robshaw

‘The best account of the strange, secretive place on the other side of the wall’ William Leith

‘These are haunting accounts of an Orwellian time through which no one lived through without paying a high personal price’ Alastair Mabbott

‘These encounters with survivors are harrowing and, until this book, almost forgotten’ Fiona Wilson

‘These rigorously researched, tenderly told stories of life inside East Germany won the Samuel Johnson prize a decade ago... Funder illuminates her subjects with humanity... remarkable investigative journalism’ Arifa Akbar

‘Written with rare literary flair. I can think of no better introduction to the brutal reality of East German repression’

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