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Anna Funder’s Samuel Johnson Prize-winning Stasiland is an Australian classic, the definitive account of tyranny and resistance in the former East Germany.

Winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize
Truth can be stranger – and more heartbreaking and hilarious – than fiction.

In this now classic work, Funder tells extraordinary stories from the most perfected surveillance state of all time, the former East Germany. She meets Miriam, condemned as an enemy of the state at sixteen, and Frau Paul, for whom the Berlin Wall ‘went through my heart’. She drinks with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, once declared by the authorities to ‘no longer exist’. And she meets ex-Stasi – men who spied on their families and friends – still loyal to the deposed regime as they await the next revolution.

Stasiland is a brilliant, timeless portrait of a Kafkaesque world as gripping as any thriller. In a world of total surveillance, its celebration of human conscience and courage is as potent as ever.

Reviews

Stasiland demonstrates that great, original reporting is still possible . . . A heartbreaking, beautifully written book. A classic for sure.

Claire Tomalin, The Guardian (UK)

Unforgettable.

Sydney Morning Herald

Fascinating, entertaining, hilarious, horrifying and very important.

Tom Hanks

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143792529

    June 27, 2018

    Penguin

    304 pages

    RRP $22.99

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    Or

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Extract

1

Berlin, Winter 1996

I am hungover and steer myself like a car through the crowds at Alexanderplatz station. Several times I miscalculate my width, scraping into a bin, and an advertising bollard. Tomorrow bruises will develop on my skin, like a picture from a negative.

A man turns from the wall, smiling and zipping up his fly. He is missing shoelaces and some teeth; his face and his shoes are as loose as each other. Another man in overalls, with a broom the size of a tennis-court sweeper, pushes disinfectant pellets along the platform. He makes arcs of green powder and cigarette butts and urine. A morning drunk walks on the ground like it might not hold him.

I’m catching the underground to Ostbahnhof to board the regional line down to Leipzig, a couple of hours from here. I sit on a green bench. I look at green tiles, breathe green air. Suddenly I don’t feel too good. I need to get to the surface quickly and make my way back up the stairs. At ground level Alexanderplatz is a monstrous expanse of grey concrete designed to make people feel small. It works.

Continue Reading
Article
Miriam’s Case

Anna Funder reflects on when Stasiland was first published in Germany in 2004.

Also by Anna Funder