Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wall Jumper: A Berlin Story” as Want to Read:
The Wall Jumper: A Berlin Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wall Jumper: A Berlin Story

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  729 ratings  ·  64 reviews
"Schneider's characters, like Kundera's, are sentient and sophisticated figures at a time when the constraints of Communist rule persist but its energy has entirely vanished."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review

When the Berlin Wall was still the most tangible representation of the Cold War, Peter Schneider made this political and ideological symbol into something p
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wall Jumper, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Justin Smith The narrator may have meant three full trips, i.e. the plane flew over the East and returned to the West three times before landing, rather than just…moreThe narrator may have meant three full trips, i.e. the plane flew over the East and returned to the West three times before landing, rather than just going across three individual times.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  729 ratings  ·  64 reviews

Sort order
Abeer Abdullah
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books this year, when I picked it up it was totally new to me I knew nothing about the author and had never heard of the book. the best feeling is to be totally overwhelmed by a book you expected nothing of. Regardless of your politics or what you chose to interpret from this novel, its an extremely complex and nuanced portrayal of so many questions and aspects of being a person, engaging with other people, engaging with identity, and engaging with a state. You get the feelin ...more
I’ve never been great at writing reviews because my opinion of the book will usually change so many times whilst I’m reading it that by the end, I either know I liked it or didn’t, but would have forgotten the finer details. But in this case, I don’t _want_ to forget the finer details. So I am writing this as I read the book because there are some things I know I’ll forget.

Firstly, I initially found this book awful, that’s got to be said. I think the combination of having to read it for school,
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of beautiful descriptions and artfully strung together sentences.

I enjoyed getting lost in the philosophical back and forth the characters experience. It was hysterical at times and I laughed too hard. At other parts, it was incredibly sober and thought provoking.

All in all, a great read that has not lost its relevance over time.
Amanda Bannister
3.5 / 5
Margaret Madden
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
3.5 stars
Some beautiful prose and memorable moments, but was a struggle to read. Would have hated this as a school child, but as an adult I can see how it is considered a classic.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: normandy
complex, intriguing, weighty: an important look into the ideologies of the people of the DDR and the GDR and the "walls inside their heads"
Andrew Chidzey
I picked this book up at Waterstones on Piccadilly Circus prior to an impending trip to Berlin. Having completed 5 days in the city visiting the Wall and famous sites such as the Stasi Museum it was timely for me to read this on my return flight from Berlin London. Peter Schneider was born in Lübeck, Germany 1940 and this novel - first published when the wall was still standing in 1982 - is particularly poignant and challenges the reader to consider how the Wall impacts on individuals. By offeri ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short novel set in Berlin during the early 1980s, a significant amount of time before the wall came down. The unnamed narrator is a writer, collecting stories about people who have crossed over from East to West Berlin, like himself, and vice versa, and their lives as both Germans and people living in different states and under different political regimes. Mostly the stories are told with some humor, and in some way this makes readers question the popularly held ideas of what daily life was li ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit: I did not have great expectations about this book. Generally, prescribed books leave a sour taste (even if only due to their mandatory nature) and political essays don't spark my imagination... But The Wall Jumper is just the right combination of political commentary, literary creativity, and contextual immersion to showcase amazing quotes and their universal relevance.

This is not the type of book to make you attached to characters and I expected nothing more on that front. It
Belinda Carvalho
It's October and this is a fitting book to celebrate German reunification. Adored this doc-realist style novel, written in the early eighties. It manages to be completely of it's time but like the best books has an underlying message that still rings true today, the idea of where does the state end and the individual begin? The idea of breaking down the psychological wall between the two different Germany's.
Historically, it's fascinating. I presume the vignettes the narrator tells us are inspire
Jon Margetts
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Schneider's novella, The Wall Jumper is an odd blend of Scheherazade-esque short stories, essays and philosophical musings on the nature of the Berlin Wall and its impact upon the citizens living on either side. Schneider evocatively illustrates the contrast between the liberal, jazz-loving denizens of West Berlin, residing in the counter-culture of Kreuzberg, and their eastern counterparts cocooned within the overarching GDR.

I enjoyed how Schneider depicted the ambivalence of each community. H
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was fitting to read this book about a divided Berlin of the 1980s just as I arrived in "Europe's last divided city" Nicosia, my new home for the next 4 years. One of the few, and reportedly one of the best, accounts of life in Berlin at that time, this book is above all a clever account of what it feels like psychologically to live in a divided city, where almost every street ends in a dead end.

Schneider portrays an intriguing array of characters who each cope with the pain of division in a d
Jun 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The subject matter is dated in that it discusses life in Berlin before the fall of the Wall in 1989. However, if you're curious about German history or German identity, I think this is a interesting exploration of how people viewed - and lived within - a divided state. As you can glean from the title, the bulk of the stories are about people trying to jump the wall.

I really enjoyed Schneider's writing - it's clear, concise and thoughtful. Fair warning, though: If you come into this expecting a
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting time capsule about a city and country socially overhauled by war. This was originally published in 1982, the wall came down in 1988 or 89 I believe. So the author's perspective might have been that this would be forever, or at least an unknown future. A really great fiction for anyone a fan of history.
Flora Vickers
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edin-books
Most of this doesn't feel a whole lot like fiction and that is why I didn't fall in love with it.
But of course, the moments of vibrant tenderness and well-executed poetic prose is what made me really like this one.
The unnamed author's description of Lena and her friends, his musings about how life growing up on the other side would have been.
Bronwen Griffiths
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's funny and thoughtful. What makes it shine for me is the politics within it - how the people in the east and west each perceive their communist and capitalist states. How each side is deluded in its own way. Still pertinent today.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is really interesting because of the unique perspective it offers on the Berlin Wall. Not only was the idea good and complex, but the voice was refreshing, too-- very laid back, funny even. This book is a unique combo of good things. Never would have guessed!
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, poignant tale.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Truly beautifully written - captivating
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Very interesting read on not just a city, but a people divided by more than just a wall.
Inna Ershova
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was more of a 3.5 star book for me, but I rounded the rating up due to a number of eye-catching stories masterfully presented in it and several thoughts about the divided Germany that are stuck in my memory. As lots of reviewers have already mentioned, "The Wall Jumper" resembles a collection of essays/short stories much more than a novel. It's based on real life experiences of people living on both sides of the wall and separated not only geographically but also mentally and emotionally. The ...more
Nanda Vercruyssen
Met enkele uitzonderlijke anekdotes tracht het boek een vergelijking te maken tussen Oost- en West-Berlijn en wat het effect op de inwoners moet zijn geweest. Best interessant dus. Maar desondanks bleven de anekdotes vaak wat op de vlakte of sprak het toch niet altijd tot mijn verbeelding. Meer interactie tussen de personages of langere, diepgaande conversaties hadden me misschien net iets meer kunnen boeien.
Nicholas During
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Pretty dated really. There is a couple moments when the protagonist/narrator says something to the effect of: "not matter what happens to the state of German (re: East/West and reunification), it will take a long long time for the people of these two states to get over the ideological and identification divide that the states has forced on their own lives." I'm in Berlin as I write this and though far from an expert my sense is that it didn't take long at all.

Still, though the novel is about a c
Narcissus Heiyan
May 31, 2016 marked it as on-hold
Recommends it for: people interested in identity & Berlin
Schneider's The Wall Jumper is ultimately a novel about Berlin, divided Berlin. He is fastidious in his examination of the Berlin Wall, German identity and the relationship between the individual and the state. He makes great points, however, the book itself contains a main 'plot' (if you can call it that- very little happens and happens in a disjointed manner) punctuated and interrupted by stories of German individuals who attempt to surpass the wall.

My problem is with characterisation, style
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's not that I disliked it, it's just that I couldn't connect with the main characters and most importantly with the protagonist. Perhaps a deeper knowledge of that era's history would have made me appreciate the narrative more. Nevertheless, there were moments I enjoyed with a very humane sense of humour, which I guess is what makes you go through difficult times and remain slightly more intact than others.
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Stven by: Angelika Pohl
An interesting meditation on human response to living within political boundaries -- as we always do, but in 1982, when this book was written, we had the particularly acute case of an East Berlin and West Berlin divided by a physical as well as political wall. How do people feel and behave in such a situation? We might say, just as people always feel and behave. There are inconveniences and conveniences wherever we find ourselves, and generally we simply accept our lot in life (not having any se ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Am Abend berichtet der Nachrichtensprecher des Fernsehens von einer UNO-Resolution, die den Einmarsch sowjetischer Truppen in Afghanistan al seine Einmischung in die inneren Angelegenheiten dieses Landes verurteilt. Im Bild werden Kolonnen russischer Panzer gezeigt, die durch die Haupstadt rollen. Der Nachrichtensprecher weist darauf hin, daß diese Bilder seit Wochen nicht in den Ostmedien zu sehen sind.

Kurz danach wechsele ich das Programm. Wieder sitzt ein Nachrichtensprecher vor einer Weltka
One of the seminal events in my life was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. I was 20 years old at the time, but I can still remember watching the live coverage on TV from my living room in Australia with a mixture of joy, fascination and unbridled optimism for the future.

Peter Schneider’s classic novel, The Wall Jumper, which was penned in 1982, provides a fascinating glimpse of Berlin life before the wall came down.

The book follows the lives of a handful of East Berliners who move to the West
Mary Warnement
This read more like an essay than a novel. The protagonist is a writer, a journalist I think, so that makes sense. A writer in west Berlin who travels often to east Berlin. His meetings with other writers give the novel its structure. Its reason for telling stories.
My random notes:
pp 57-60 Why jump the wall? B/c it's there.
p. 66 East Berlin writers value those who don't just challenge the State but outsmart it.
p. 67 Her face bears the marks of others' grief.
p.119 It will take us longer to tear
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape
  • The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town 1922-1945
  • After The Wall
  • Five Germanys I Have Known
  • What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933
  • Der Turm
  • The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945
  • The File: A Personal History
  • Das Muschelessen
  • Haus ohne Hüter
  • Crabwalk
  • Soul of Wood
  • The End: Hamburg 1943
  • Next World Novella
  • Spazieren In Berlin
  • Der erste Frühling
  • The Student Conductor
  • Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts
Peter Schneider is a German novelist. His novel Lenz, published in 1973, had become a cult text for the Left, capturing the feelings of those disappointed by the failure of their utopian revolt. Since then, Peter Schneider has written novels, short stories and film scripts, that often deal with the fate of members of his generation. Other works deal with the situation of Berlin before and after Ge ...more
“Interrogato sui motivi dei salti non veniva fuori che questo: «Quando nell'appartamento c'è troppo silenzio e fuori è grigio, nebbia e non succede niente, allora penso: dai, salta ancora una volta il muro!»” 1 likes
“Partecipai per la prima volta allo sconvolgimento, alla deformazione di sentimenti che questo confine provoca in una famiglia. Dai saluti iniziali fino al commiato: ogni gesto mi sembrò stranamente ingigantito, carico di speranze o taciti rimproveri, inibito dal rispetto per l’eventuale irripetibilità dell’avvenimento. Anche volendo, non sarebbe stato possibile rimanere fino al mattino seguente, lo Stato aveva fissato il bacio dell’addio per la mezzanotte: ogni precipitoso ‘a presto’ sarebbe stato cinismo.” 1 likes
More quotes…