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We are thrilled to have secured the English translation rights to “Das Deutsche Krokodil written by Ijoma Mangold and originally published in Germany in 2017 by Rowolt Verlag.

Ijoma Alexander Mangold is one of Germany’s leading literary critics and this is his reflective and compelling memoir of growing up different – both in terms of his ethnicity and his interests - in 1970s Heidelberg, in the USA as the German Wall fell, and as a young adult in the new Germany. His own story is inextricably linked with that of his mother, an ethnic German from the eastern province of Silesia, forced to escape as a refugee in the expulsions from 1944, and to start afresh in utter poverty in West Germany. His Nigerian father came to Germany as a medical student but returned before Ijoma was old enough to remember him. When he reappears on the scene in Ijoma’s early twenties, it forces a crash collision with an unknown culture, one he has grown up always suspicious of, and a new complex family history to come to terms with. This fascinating memoir explores many questions experienced in his young years in a country where he was often referred to as a “Mischling” or “Mulatte.”  How does it feel to grow up without a father? What is the relationship between class and race? And what is more likely to garner someone suspicion in Germany: having brown skin or developing a passion for Thomas Mann and Richard Wagner?  Mangold's path to becoming one of Germany's leading arts critics makes for stimulating reading not only for what it says about modern Germany but also what it shows us about the interplay of race and class more universally. Photo Credit © Sebastian Hänel

Ijoma Mangold was born in Heidelberg in 1971 and studied literature and philosophy in Munich and Bologna. After working for the newspapers Berliner Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, he moved to the weekly Die Zeit in 2009, where he was literary editor from 2013 to 2018. He is now Die Zeit's cultural correspondent. He is one of four critics for the SWR television programme, Lesenswert. Mangold lives in Berlin.

Our mission has always centered around the importance of preserving Africa's literary heritage whilst making it as discoverable and as accessible as possible. The launch of Digitalback Books meant using technology as an enabler to achieve this objective and we are continuing to curate an exciting collection of Africa focused content from independent publishers around the world.   Recognising that the African Narrative goes beyond the borders of the continent to include the voice of many in the diaspora, we were quick to add a strong collection of titles that spoke to the Black British and Caribbean experience.  But there are many more stories that need to be heard, shared and amplified and the perspective of African Europeans is still somewhat underrepresented, making this latest acquisition all the more satisfying. 

We are delighted to be working with Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp on this translation supported by grants from English Pen and the Goethe Institute. Ruth has a degree in German literature and has studied many of the classics to which Mangold makes frequent reference, including Thomas Mann and Theodor Fontane.  Ruth's translation of Ulrich Raulff's Farewell to the Horse was named Sunday Times history book of the year, and her lyrical translation, described as 'scintillating reading ' by The Observer, was shortlisted for the 2019 Helen & Kurt Wolff Prize for Translation from German. Her experience of translating critical texts on music and art, and her thorough knowledge of German history and politics, make her well prepared for conveying to English readers the cultural context that imbues Mangold's nevertheless very personal memoir.

The English translation of The German Crocodile will be published under our new DAS Editions Imprint and is scheduled for UK release on the 1st of October 2021


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