After Midnight
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After Midnight

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Sanna and her ravishing friend Gerti would rather speak of love than politics, but in 1930s Frankfurt, politics cannot be escaped -- even in the lady's bathroom. Crossing town one evening to meet up with Gerti's Jewish lover, a blockade cuts off the girls' path -- it is the Fürher in a motorcade procession, and the crowd goes mad striving to catch a glimpse of Hitler's rai...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Melville House (first published 1937)
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After Midnight by Irmgard KeunFaithful Ruslan by Georgi VladimovI Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLaneThe Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich RaspeThe Train by Georges Simenon
Neversink Library
1st out of 35 books — 22 voters
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtMidnight Sun by Stephenie MeyerThe Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth LongfellowMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieMidnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy
26th out of 43 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

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I first heard of this book and its author only a few weeks ago, when I read an article in the local newspaper in which a number of Australian writers were asked to nominate their favourite books of 2011. I don’t know why this particular work drew my attention, but I’m very glad that it did.

When the book was published in 1937, Irmgard Keun was living in exile in the Netherlands, her previous novels having been banned by the Nazi regime. As the editorial note at the end of the Kindle edition expl...more
Friederike Knabe
Sometimes we happen to come across a little gem of a book that had disappeared, literally, for decades. After Midnight, written by Irmgard Keun in 1937 during her exile in Holland, is just one such book. Now translated into English by the admirable Anthea Bell, the first since the original translation in 1938, it belongs into a select treasure collection of recently re-discovered notable German fiction, written either just before or right after World War II. Each novel depicts, in its own way, a...more
This novella length book was first published in 1937 and, very much like Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics), it tells the story of living in Nazi Germany by a German who lived there. Irmgaud Keun (1905-1982) was an author born in Berlin, whose work was destroyed in the infamous book burnings which took place under Nazi rule. Arrested by the Gestapo, she was forced shortly into exile, during which time she had an affair with Jewish author Joseph Roth. Much of this novella mirrors her life...more
One of the few instances when I just want to quote the book blurbs/review snippets, because all of them are spot-on. Keun wrote this slim novel, set in mid-1930s Germany, with a tone that is somehow light and devastating. Through protagonist Sanna's naive eyes and artless comments, the reader sees everyday Germany where Hitler's fascism has become normal. No one is safe; neighbors and relatives inform on each other and even a visit to the Ladies Room is fraught with tension about what someone mi...more
Mar 16, 2010 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sharm
Another book chosen by author. My BA dissertation was about Irmgard Keun's The Artificial Silk Girl. I'm also familiar with Gilgi eine von uns., which was similar in style. However, Irmgard Keun is most well known for her books about World War II, and this one in particular. Her main character was once again a naive but observant young woman living in the big city, trying to make it big any way she can think of and reconcile with her idea of what's right and wrong. The book is in the first perso...more
It is difficult to conceive of coming of age in a society where politics permeates and controls all aspects of life, from relationships to what you say or do. Even firsthand accounts of life in places like Nazi Germany are limited because they can largely reflect only the perspective of the author. As a result, novels by contemporary German writers often seem to carry as much or more impact on understanding the times. Irmgard Keun's After Midnight is a notable part of that canon.

Susanne "Sanna"...more
I was expecting After Midnight to be one of those novels that's not that interesting by itself but sticks in your mind later as a reflection of its times. I'm looking at Mephisto (Klaus Mann) and A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (Danilo Kis) here. Not so for Keun's novel of Nazi Germany, however. I enjoyed the novel while I was reading and still had that feeling of this-is-great-because-it-expresses-pivotal-history. Keun's narrator, Sanna, is deceptively naïve. She's young and all absorbed with roman...more
Irmgard Keun's After Midnight is a slim novel with a slim premise: Susanna and her friend Gerti have some nasty adventures in early Nazi Germany. "We are living in the time of the greatest German denunciation movement ever, you see. Everyone has to keep an eye on everyone else. Everyone's got power over everyone else. Everyone can get everyone else locked up." Susanna (or Sanna as she is called) discovers this the hard way, as she is denounced by her own aunt for making unflattering comments abo...more
Nicki Markus
This is a very intense piece of writing, offering a glimpse of the life led by everyday people in Hitler's Germany.

The tension runs high from start to finish as the characters deal with the difficulties of life, under constant threat of being reported for the slightest hint of offense against the regime.

There was a sense of urgency about every scene in this book, which was a little tiring at times, but which I also think was necessary to convey the fear of the characters as they each battled the...more
I read an article about Irmgard Keun's life recently and decided to get ahold of all three of her major novels--this was the first one I read. I thought it was beautiful, sad, and funny all at once, and it was fascinating to see how much she could get away with writing about the Nazis. It's a really interesting perspective on the climate of Nazi Germany; so much of what I've read on that period has related to the Jewish perspective, or even the perspective of SS men or other Nazi soldiers. But t...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
I really, really love when publishers bring old treasures (also known as a book in this particular case) to new light and new audiences. After Midnight is one of those books. This is a short book about a vivacious girl named Sanna who is living in a quickly changing world. In this sort of novella, Keun gives us a look at not only the world events changing the the course of history at the time but also how regular life still seems to creep in.

I really enjoyed this short story. I had never heard...more
Christine Frank
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. The author has been rediscovered but with our hindsight it may be even more painful to read, and the urge to stifle the heroine more fierce. In its simplest terms, take a flippant, silly, outspoken, boy-crazy young girl and place her in the full flower of the Weimar Republic. Hilarity ensues. Or not.

Take Cher from "Clueless" and plop her down in the "German" (that is, non-GI) scenes of "Inglorious Basterds." Now you have "After Midnight."

Jun 13, 2011 Alison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Amazing satirical novel that takes place in pre-war Frankfurt, written by Irmgard Keun, an antifascist humor writer in 1937 (her work inspired Anita Loos!!!). An obsession with Irmgard Keun has been ignited! True HERO.
Irene Palfy
This is a novel ABOUT 3. Reich written DURING 3. Reich IN 3. Reich.

Read my review here:


I haven't actually read this book in English, just German. It's fantastic in the original, though, so let me know if you find an English copy and read it.
Carla Crujido
Atrocious translation and multiple grammatical errors.
The editors at Melville were obviously swallowed by Moby DIck before they were able to complete their line edits.
Keun’s life, who was opposed to the Nazi regime, could be the subject of a novel: at some point, she faked her own suicide to be able to live in Germany unbeknownst to the Nazis, who had put her on their black list (her books were burned). This short novel is, in a very quiet way, absolutely terrifying: by describing the daily life of a bunch of ordinary people in Frankfurt under the Nazis, she shows with an amazing eye for the details that matter how unbearable, debilitating, difficult, and suf...more
A well written book from an uncommon perspective: a middle/working class german woman at the beginning of the Third Reich.

Food for Thought:

"Dann möchte ich manchmal das Fenster aufmachen und alle Männer von der Straße rufen, damit sie kommen und sich wundern, wie schön ich bin. Natürlich könnte ich das nie richtig tun. Aber es ist doch ein Jammer, daß jemand ganz allein für sich oft am schönsten ist"(6).

"Und er hat sie geheiratet, weil sie ihn bewunderte als einen dichtenden Gott und weil eine F...more

I picked up this book on a whim, mostly because it is part of Melville House's Neversink Library series. It was one of the best literary impulse buys I have ever made.

Far removed from the expected serious or somber tone of other literature dealing with life in Nazi Germany, the narrator Susanne recounts the events in the novel with the light-heartedness, simplicity, and flippancy of a teenage girl. This style makes for a fast and enjoyable read, and it is also the most striking aspect of the nov

Elizabeth B
A tiny gem of a book, this is one of those books you just happen to stumble upon by chance and then it won’t let go of you. Recently re-released here in the US, it has a small but loyal following who do their best to get it more wide acclaim and for good reason. Part of the Neversink Library (which I’ve mentioned in prior reviews) this is one of those books that you hold onto and keep for future generations to enjoy even though it may not be a best seller. With a simple storyline and even thinne...more
Sherry Schwabacher
Set in 1937 Frankfurt, After Midnight is a terrifying portrait of a society that has been warped and disfigured by suspicion and hate, as seen through the eyes of Sanne, a naive 18-year-old. I started to call this historical fiction, then realized it was written in 1937. It was a contemporary account of the Nazi regime, written by one of the bravest women in Germany. A popular novelist, her books were banned when the Nazis came to power. She famously sued the Gestapo for the loss of income she e...more
Nov 22, 2011 Ana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ana by: Bookslut blog
Shelves: fiction, women-list
I'd never heard of Keun until Bookslut's blog mentioned her not too long ago. Apparently she's very well known in Germany, so she's only unfamiliar to the American market.

I really enjoyed it. It's a sliver of a book and i ended up finishing it in a few hours. I don't really want to go too much into it as i feel it'll ruin the book, but if you have any interest in reading about what it was like to live under the Nazi regime as an ordinary German, then you'll love this.

Great read and i can't wait...more
Heather Clitheroe
Started this book in the departure lounge at the Atlanta airport, waiting to go home. Read it along the way to Toronto, read it some more after clearing customs and crossing back into Canada, and then finished it on the flight from Toronto to Calgary. Loved it so much that I gave the book to the flight attendant so that she could read it on her return flight to Toronto. Really worth it.
Jocelyn Pitt
I did not enjoy this at all. I was apparently looking for the same title, but a different author.
Amazing--very funny and horrifying at the same time. Published in 1937. Shows increasingly scary social dynamic of prewar Germany from the perspective of a 19 year old, sassy, and heartbreaking. Author sued the Gestapo in Berlin state court for loss of income after they banned her books. She lost. First time published in Englishin US.
Austen to Zafón
Jul 01, 2012 Austen to Zafón marked it as to-read
Shelves: the-war-years
WHY: recently re-published, this book was written in 1937 by a woman who had just fled Nazi Germany. The main characters are young and somewhat frivolous and the story is about them having to face "betrayal, death, and the heartbreaking reality of being young in an era devoid of innocence or romance."
What a great book this is - set in Nazi Germany in 1930s Frankfurt, Keun takes us on a amazing ride through the quagmire that is slowly enveloping - and suffocating - the German people through the eyes of her twenty-something heroine Sanna - Keun was a brave soul to write this book in '37!
Fascinating book. Very tragic in places, but then, it's the early 1940's in Germany.
Often I don't like stream-of-consciousness style, but Keun uses it to great effect. Really, since that was such a confused time for the German people, that style of writing is perfect.
I am not a Holocaust book-reader. It's not my "genre." I checked this book out from the library because I liked the cover design. I found it bracing and nauseating and intoxicating. A splash of grain alcohol to the brain. Unlike anything I've ever read. Check it out, do.
This is the kind of book that I would have liked to read in a class with a guide to help me understand the deeper meaning. On my own, I felt a little lost in it in many places, not understanding the depth and significance of certain characters or situations.
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