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After Midnight

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  338 Ratings  ·  57 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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Faithful Ruslan by Georgi VladimovAfter Midnight by Irmgard KeunI Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLaneThe Train by Georges SimenonA Country Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov
Neversink Library
2nd out of 39 books — 29 voters
The House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeMy Brilliant Friend by Elena FerranteThe Piano Teacher by Elfriede JelinekLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelThe Lover by Marguerite Duras
Women in Translation
72nd out of 514 books — 85 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,236)
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Dec 30, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

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
Friederike Knabe
Jun 09, 2011 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-lit
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
Nov 06, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 22, 2011 Susann rated it really liked it
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
Ben Winch
Sep 07, 2015 Ben Winch rated it it was ok
A convincing voice, not a compelling one. I hung in there till the mouthy/heroic journalist arrived, but his voice―convincing maybe, compelling not at all, and concerned almost entirely with commonplaces in no need of elaboration―defeated me. Another would-be guru, shown (seemingly) without irony! I stopped 20 pages from the end with no regrets. On the upside, the translation’s good, there were some nice observations (the narrator’s aunt getting flustered over Hitler’s speeches simply for their ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Pascale rated it it was amazing
This is such an important book that I wonder how come I had never heard of it before. But then again, as Michael Hofman writes in his excellent and informative afterword to Keun's "Child of All Nations": "I've no doubt that, had she been a man, her work would have been made available in valorous box sets and collected editions." First published in 1937, this is one of the strongest and cleverest indictments of Hitler and Nazism to see the light of print during that decade. The story is told from ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 15, 2013 Denis rated it it was amazing
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
May 22, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: foreign-lit
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
Nov 12, 2011 Susanna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-books
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
Jul 31, 2011 Mark rated it liked it
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
Jul 10, 2011 Nicki Markus rated it really liked it
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
Jul 26, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Frau Keun kann Geschichten schreiben und "Nach Mitternacht" war sehr gut geschrieben, aber ich sollte es einfach mal bleiben lassen mit solch lebensbejahenden Plots wie dieser, der während der Nazizeit spielt. Das tut meinem Seelenheil nicht gut. Deswegen nur drei Sternchen mit Tendenz zu vier.
Apr 06, 2016 Lizara rated it it was ok
Lectura obligatoria de Lite y Holocausto, que no me ha gustado nada :/
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 25, 2011 Meg - A Bookish Affair rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
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
Christine Frank
Aug 29, 2011 Christine Frank rated it liked it
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."

Adam  McPhee
Apr 25, 2016 Adam McPhee rated it liked it
Shelves: germany, 2016
Talk about bravery. Irmgard Keun sued the Gestapo when they banned and burned her books in the thirties. She wrote this book after becoming a literary exile, but she was in the Netherlands when the war broke out and found herself once again under the thumb of the Nazis. Somehow she gained a passport using her middle name and the surname of her ex-husband, then the Telegraph and a German exile printed her obituary, claiming she'd taken her own life when the Nazis invaded. It's not known if the su ...more
Heather Clitheroe
Nov 13, 2011 Heather Clitheroe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-reads
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.
Nov 28, 2013 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
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!
Jun 13, 2011 Alison rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 22, 2011 Irene Palfy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel ABOUT 3. Reich written DURING 3. Reich IN 3. Reich.

Read my review here:

Carla Crujido
Jan 08, 2015 Carla Crujido rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 13, 2009 WK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.
Feb 14, 2012 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2013 Marcus rated it it was amazing

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
Aug 09, 2011 Elizabeth B rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2015 Sydney added it
WOW! I am so grateful to have discovered this pre-WWII era German writer. Keun balances her young heroine's naiveté with biting social criticism to craft a short novel that is one of the best that explains how ordinary people got caught up in the Nazi era. High school students should read this one! An incredible little book!
Mar 18, 2015 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant book from the good folks at Melville House's Neversink Library. Irmgard Keun's second (?) novel is set in Nazi era 1930s Germany and is stunningly witty, full of acid satire and hugely sad. The whole situation seems a farce but you know it's not. Read Keun!
Dec 08, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: germany
Fascinating little book that I found on the sidewalk - a short book first published 1937 in about the beginning of the Nazi era, creeping and leaping into the lives of citizens. Both the life of the author and the book are quite fascinating.
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Goodreads Librari...: Add Cover 4 13 Nov 29, 2015 04:06AM  
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Irmgard Keun (February 6, 1905 – May 5, 1982) was a German author noteworthy both for her portrayals of life in the Weimar Republic as well as the early years of the Nazi Germany era.

(from Wikipedia)
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