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Anna Funder

  • awardWinner, BBC 4 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, United Kingdom
  • Truth can be stranger—and more fascinating—than fiction. Anna Funder tells extraordinary stories from the underbelly of the most perfected surveillance state of all time, the former East Germany.

    Funder meets Miriam, the sixteen-year-old who might have started World War III. She visits the regime’s cartographer, obsessed to this day with the Berlin Wall, then gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the east, once declared by the authorities ‘no longer to exist’. And she finds spies and Stasi men, still loyal to the Firm as they wait for the next revolution.

    Stasiland is a lyrical, at times funny account of the courage some people found to withstand the dictatorship, and the consequences for those who collaborated. Funder explores the daily chaos and harsh beauty of Berlin, a place where some people are trying to remember, and others just as hard to forget.

    Stasiland is a brilliant debut by a prodigiously gifted writer.

    Reading Australia teaching notes available here.

    Anna Funder
    About the Author

    Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer and documentary film-maker. In 1997 she was writer-in-residence at the Australia Centre in Potsdam. Stasiland is her first book.

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    Text publication date:
    5 December 2003
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    Praise for Anna Funder

    ‘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.’

    ‘A moving and intimate history that is in theory about East German Post WWII but is also about how we struggle to remain human when subject to the most inhuman invasions of privacy.’

    ‘This is a series of beautifully told personal accounts…all told by a writer who is both evocative and gently persuasive. This is history written from the standpoint of the individual rather than the larger, more impersonal and abstract world of events and actions.’

    ‘Absolutely compelling…This book draws you into the world it describes and connects you with the people in that world.’

    ‘Funder balances the roles of the interviewer, historian and friend in a brilliant, absorbing narrative.’

    Stasiland is undoubtedly creative non-fiction at its most riveting best. Indeed, it is also testimony to Funder’s curiosity, tenacity, and novel-like story telling ability which sustain the intensity and engagement with such dark and gripping themes.’

    ‘A compelling, sad, blackly funny and well-written book.’

    ‘Colourful, intensely observed, well executed, with lots of black humour and disturbing undertones.’

    ‘[A] brilliant account of this passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed. It is a masterpiece of investigative analysis, written almost like a novel, with a perfect mix of compassion and distance.’

    ‘With her debut Stasiland Anna Funder has certainly announced herself as one of the leading non-fiction writers of the present day, Sydney’s very own answer to Joan Dideon…Funder’s writing persona is taut and pale, interior and existential, yes, but absolutely enmeshed in history. We are fortunate to witness her arrival.’

    ‘A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history. The author’s investigation of life in the former German Democratic Republic both devastates and lifts the heart. Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth.’

    ‘In a gripping, often chilling account that peels away the clandestine layers of the former German Democratic Republic, Funder charts a precarious course through a world of broken dreams and shattered lives.’

    ‘Stasiland is a strange but affecting catalogue of anecdotes about East Germans living under the old communist regime…Funder certainly writes well, possessing a clean, accessible prose style with a good eye for descriptive detail.‘

    ‘Funder’s gripping account of the era has the descriptive but restrained prose of a novel.’