Just a few days ago, the Hamburg-based Rowohlt Verlag announced in a not-so-short message that Cormac McCarthy’s “long-awaited” double novel “The Passenger” and “Stella Maris” will be released next fall, at the end of the week. of November. . In the ad, Rowohlt’s publisher, Nicola Bartels, celebrates both novels “as the literary and philosophical legacy of one of the greatest of American literature.”
Just as McCarthy’s books appear almost naturally in a Rowohlt Verlag German translation, so have Jonathan Franzen’s books. Franzen is not only one of the greatest authors of contemporary American literature, but also one of the most popular.
Unlike Cormac McCarthy, he has been a best-selling author in this country since his novel “Corrections,” and last year’s Franzen novel “Crossroads” was on the best-seller lists for weeks.
Cormac McCarthy stays
It is even more painful for Rowohlt that it is now over. As is known, Franzen’s books are now being published by the Munich publishing house dtv, together with the background list, ie also future new paperback editions.
But not only Franzen moves from Hamburg to Munich. Jeffrey Eugenides, who became known to a wider German audience with “Middlesex” at the same time as Franzen, and Georg Büchner Prize winner Martin Mosebach now work at dtv. In addition, there is talk that former Rowohlt authors Eugen Ruge and Ijoma Mangold will also be leaving the publisher.
With this unusually large author’s bloodshed, there’s talk of an earthquake, with Rowohlt; Especially with Franzen one had the feeling that he belonged to Rowohlt just like classic writers like Ernest Hemingway or Vladimir Nabokov.
And it’s probably a stroke of luck that the dtv publishing house, which has massively strengthened itself and steadily expanded its literary program in recent years, has landed here.
Laugwitz first went to dtv, followed by Alexander Fest
The change of authors is almost logical and not at all surprising. Because in the last year and a half the same thing happened at the editorial level: First, in 2020, the former editor of Rowohlt, Barbara Laugwitz, made her way to Munich to dtv via a stopover in Berlin at the Ullstein Verlag.
In 2018, she was relieved of her position by those responsible for the Holtzbrinck Group, to which Rowohlt belongs, so that Florian Illies could succeed her.
And then, in the summer of last year, Laugwitz followed his longtime predecessor at Rowohlt, Alexander Fest, to dtv as a “consulting editor, as it was called. He had previously been general editor at Rowohlt and brought in Franzen and Eugenides in the late 1990s, as did Daniel Kehlmann later, who came over from Suhrkamp and was one of the most successful at Rowohlt with “The Surveying of the World” . “, more than a million books of post-war literature in German sold.
And not only did Fest follow Laugwitz: Ulrike Schieder, the editor for many years, also moved to Munich. Given the strong bond authors have with publishing, that was also a sign of things to come. These author departures are a great loss for the Rowohlt Verlag.