Books by John Brownjohn

AUNTIE POLDI AND THE VINEYARDS OF ETNA  by Mario Giordano
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 5, 2019

"Giordano gives his heroine's second outing as much punch as her debut. Long may she reign."
When Auntie Poldi loses her inner equilibrium, it takes a volcano to restore her to balance. Read full book review >
VOICES IN THE DARK by Ulli Lust
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"Stunning."
A peculiar man obsessed with the human voice and the preteen daughter of a Nazi propagandist cross paths during the later stages of World War II: Austrian cartoonist Lust's (The Big Feminist But, 2014, etc.) first graphic novel is an adaptation of Marcel Beyer's novel The Karnau Tapes (1995). Read full book review >
AUNTIE POLDI AND THE SICILIAN LIONS by Mario Giordano
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 16, 2016

"Giordano's wit and his formidable heroine's wisdom combine to make this debut a smash."
An ex-pat from Munich finds love and murder in Sicily. Read full book review >
THE LABYRINTH OF DREAMING BOOKS by Walter Moers
Released: Nov. 8, 2012

"A beguiling, bookish entertainment that ends on a cliffhanger promising—well, the prospect of many sequels to come."
Biblionauts of the world, unite—German fabulist Moers (City of Dreaming Books, 2007, etc.) is back with another goofy epic from the land of living books. Read full book review >
A WILD RIDE THROUGH THE NIGHT by Walter Moers
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"For the stout of heart or the low of blood sugar only. Nice illustrations, though."
More loopy, goopy modern mythologizing from German fabulist Moers (The City of Dreaming Books, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
A PERFECT WAITER by Alain Claude Sulzer
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2008

"For all the sexual intrigue, Erneste seems a bit like a Camus character in a Thomas Mann setting."
This short, evocative novel combines a romantic melodrama of homosexual love and betrayal with deeper meditations on the passage of time, the essence of truth, the deception of desire and the inevitability of death. Read full book review >
THE CITY OF DREAMING BOOKS by Walter Moers
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

"'Tonstant Weader fwowed up,' wrote Dorothy Parker after reading Winnie the Pooh. She had it easy. For the innocent of heart, unsullied by taste."
Sure, Larry McMurtry's got his own book town in Texas, and then there's Sedbergh and Hay-on-Wye over England way. But none of them can compare to the setting of Moers's (Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, 2006, etc.) semifabulous tale of treasures hidden. Read full book review >
ICE MOON by Jan Costin Wagner
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2007

"A stylish and creepy mystery, expertly paced. "
In this first English translation from an acclaimed German author, a Finnish detective grapples with grief while hunting for a serial killer. Read full book review >
PLEASE, MR. EINSTEIN by Jean-Claude Carrière
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

"A playful yet carefully engineered pop-physics excursion, with a host considerably livelier than most narrators on the Discovery Channel."
Einstein made (relatively) simple. Read full book review >
RUMO AND HIS MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES by Walter Moers
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 7, 2006

"Read it as allegory. Read it as a fairy tale. Whatever, it's amusing—but still too long by half."
An overstuffed confection that threatens to collapse under its own heft. Read full book review >
GHOST SHIP by Dietlof Reiche
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2005

In a distinct change of pace, the author of the "Golden Hamster Saga" crafts an eerie, poignant tale of ghosts and greed in a small resort town. The removal for restoration of an 18th-century ship's figurehead from the wall of a café, where Vicki and her father work, sparks a series of eldritch events—notably, the sudden appearance of the figurehead's long-vanished ship, good as new, out in the middle of a bay from which the sea has suddenly withdrawn. With the help of a tourist, her age, named Peter, and a crusading local reporter, Vicki gathers documents and other clues to an old mystery involving a pirated cargo of slaves, a bloody mutiny and a fortune in ill-gotten gold that has both the town's unscrupulous mayor and a menacing stranger on the hunt. Tucking in a sailor's tantalizingly incomplete journal, apparitions, nighttime expeditions and other such tasty elements, Reiche moves the plot along on a current of well-timed revelations to a climactic contact across the centuries that leaves the ghostly crew laid to rest and Vicki in possession of a second, previously unsuspected, treasure. The internal logic here is sometimes shaky, but atmospheric writing, ingenious ideas and engaging characters compensate. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
FREDDY IN PERIL by Dietlof Reiche
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2004

Freddy, an overly intelligent golden hamster, Sir William, a civilized tomcat, and Enrico and Caruso, a pair of theatrical guinea pigs, share the residence of German teacher and translator Mr. John. Freddy's extraordinary abilities allow him to communicate via computer as he types his thoughts to Mr. John by day and writes his stories by night. Boldly posting his biography on the Internet alerts the villainous Professor Fleischkopf of his unique genius and the perilous adventure begins. Freddy must outwit his enemy, escape, and be rescued before his brain is dissected in the name of scientific experimentation. Brownjohn's smooth translation captures the sophisticated and witty first-person narration flaunting a writer's flair complete with dramatic, nail-biting phrases such as "I'D NEVER LOOKED INTO A COLDER MORE SINISTER PAIR OF EYES" set in a larger, boldly wacky print. The more-graphic-than-usual book design includes a few black background pages with white text to emphasize the darkness of Freddy's plight. Cepeda's wonderfully expressive, simple ink cartoons surround the text on almost every page, adding to the histrionics. A cliffhanger written with literary polish. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
“MY WOUNDED HEART” by Martin Doerry
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 18, 2004

"A glimpse of everyday life under circumstances so surreal as to be almost incomprehensible, described with distressing immediacy. (Two 16-page b&w photo inserts, not seen)"
Correspondence among a mother confined to a Nazi labor camp, her children, and friends outside. Read full book review >
HEAD HUNTERS by Michel Crespy
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2004

"Watching the game play out is only intermittently interesting. As it turns out, the increasingly dislikable Jérôme proves almost as ethically challenged as his bête noir, making a rooting interest hard to come by."
What starts as a kind of game ends as a kind of war for the protagonist of this offbeat French thriller. Read full book review >
I, FREDDY by Dietlof Reiche
by Dietlof Reiche, illustrated by Joe Cepeda, translated by John Brownjohn
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2003

Literature becomes liberator in this story of a golden hamster who wants more from life than an exercise wheel. Purchased to be the pet of a little girl named Sophie, Freddy teaches himself to read and to leave his cage at will (he's typing the story on his owner's computer). When Sophie's mother's hamster-hostility banishes him to the home of a translator of books, he negotiates the society of Sir William the cat and Enrico and Caruso, the rhyming guinea pigs—and realizes his destiny as a reader and a writer (using his new owner's computer). Fleshing out this slim story are fairly beguiling details of insight into hamster behavior and priorities and Cepeda's amusing black-and-white spot illustrations of the blocky, self-important hamster as he conquers his world. The story rather quickly becomes a one-note joke, however, that being Freddy's unrelievedly arch voice—a tedious joke at that. There are five Freddy books in Germany; let's hope that the others offer more than this one. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? by Doris Dörrie
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 10, 2001

"With his detached, eminently humane, honest, and bitingly funny narration, Fred makes an unerringly entertaining companion—and he even finds wisdom in Buddhist teachings, despite his best efforts to remain crass and ironic."
Vibrant, amusing tale from film director/author Dörrie (What Do You Want From Me?, 1991, etc.) limns a richly entertaining midlife crisis, which takes a faithless husband to a Buddhist retreat in France. Read full book review >
EDUARD’S HOMECOMING by Peter Schneider
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

"It all makes for a kinder, gentler Kafkaesque nightmare, one whose nondescript hero almost deserves his rather convenient, even hokey, denouement."
A German biologist, long resident in America, learns that he's inherited a half-share in an apartment building in the former East Berlin—beginning a comedy of misfits he narrowly escapes with his life, though without all his dignity. Read full book review >
THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S WIFE by Robert Sole
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

This graceful, astute, fin-de-siäcle tale, first published in France in 1996, of a boisterous Egyptian photographer and the young artist he marries—who becomes, before his eyes, the most famous photographer of her day—marks an auspicious US debut for journalist SolÇ. It's 1891 when Milo Touta—on a beach near Alexandria for his summer vacation—catches a glimpse of lovely Dora as she's painting, her feet daringly bare in the sand, and he falls in love. Captivated by his giddy mix of exuberance and gentleness, Dora falls for him too, although she cares little for his profession. Marriage brings them both happiness, and Dora, by watching Milo at work in his Cairo studio, gains an insider's view of photography that quickly causes her to rethink her dismissal of it. She patiently learns the craft, both behind the camera and in the darkroom. Working side by side, conceiving and raising three daughters, the couple's blissful state continues—even as Dora starts being widely known in her own right as a portrait photographer. Amid swirling currents of Egyptian nationalism and British empire-building, they prosper enormously through the combination of Dora's unerring ability to find the essence of any visage presenting itself in her viewfinder and Milo's charm and good business sense. Only when Dora is called to photograph the Egyptian head of state, and later his British "handler," and Milo realizes that his wife has truly replaced him as photographer, does he lash out in despair. Overnight, Dora leaves him and their daughters, going on an assignment to faraway Khartoum, which the British have recently retaken in a bloody assault. There, she continues to enhance her reputation as an artist and as a woman ahead of her time, even though her joy is back in Cairo with the man who won her heart. Packed with period detail and fine touches of emotion, a strikingly smooth and heartwarming story from first to last. Read full book review >