Superb… Still as acutely creepy a look into what life was actually like there as I’ve been able to find.
Your book Stasiland struck me like no other in the last five years. It is fascinating, entertaining, hilarious, horrifying and very important.
Meticulous and compassionate… a heroic act of listening.
Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds – to her dismay and ours – that they have learned nothing.
Anna Funder’s Stasiland demonstrates that great, original reporting is still possible. She found her subject in East Germany, went for it bravely and delivers the goods in a heartbreaking, beautifully written book. A classic for sure.
Stasiland is a brilliant account of the passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed. It is a masterpiece of investigative analysis, written almost like a novel, with a perfect mix of compassion and distance.
Moving and exhilarating, Stasiland is the kind of book that makes us love non-fiction. With her tenacious curiosity and energetic intelligence, Anna Funder is a natural: she has amazing nerve, a fresh prose style and a novelist’s warm response to character and human drama.
Stasiland is very much a personal exploration of the Stasi’s legacy, with Funder—and the reader—struggling to grasp its enormity. Funder takes risks in pursuit of her story, encountering the paranoia, pain and tackiness left in the Stasi’s wake. Stasiland isn’t just an eye-opener; Funder’s dark, stylish narrative makes it a genuinely compelling read.
At once lyrical, bitter, funny and sad, her writing releases many individuals of their stories – a second liberation.
If I had to single out just one paperback this year, it would be Anna Funder’s Stasiland. Funder brings home with chilling detail the sheer human wastefulness of a political system built on deception and betrayal. It’s a terrible story, but written with vivacity and wit.
Filtered through Funder’s own keen perspective, these dramatic tales highlight the courage that ordinary people can display in torturous circumstances.
Impressive . . . Funder’s fully humanized portrait of the Stasi’s tentacles reads like a warning of totalitarian futures to come.
Funder explores the space between the conscience and the soul, converting reflective questions about cowardice and courage into a gripping account of a city’s search for identity under the unexpected burden of freedom . . . Stasiland will provoke both recognition and surprise in anyone familiar with Berlin as it used to be. For those who are not, it is an intriguing introduction to a city where life will always be an emotional cabaret.
A brilliant and necessary book about oppression and history . . . Here is someone who knows how to tell the truth.
I began the sprightly prose prepared for an indictment of the horrors of a victimised society, and finished laughing along with the frank-speaking characters Funder found. Wit survives and inhumanity is often undermined by its ironies.
The stories are riveting and beautifully told…her indictment of modern ‘Ostalgia’… is absolutely convincing.
Funder writes breezily, with a dry wit, and the book fleshes out the familiar picture of a joyless Communist state, meditating on how people thought, felt, and survived. Weaving her own observations into the appalling, inspiring and sometimes hilarious testimonies she hears, she vividly communicates her fascination with this monstrous, absurd country.
I was gripped . . . Highly personal, intelligent and disturbing accounts of living under repressive regimes.
Anna Funder’s Stasiland is essential reading for anyone going East. Funder, an Australian living and working in Germany, became obsessed with the silence surrounding the ongoing presence of so many undercover informers after unification, and wrote this fascinating, funny and very human account of her attempts to discover the truth behind the Stasi.
A journey into the bizarre, scary, secret history of the former East Germany that is both relevant and riveting.
There is much humour and even affection in her portraits . . . In theory at least, torture was as illegal under Hitler as it was under Honecker. It was, however, a brave man or woman who drew attention to the brutality of East German prisons. All this and much else comes wonderfully to life in Funder’s racy account.
Explores the legacy of the Stasi in the former DDR from both victims and persecutors.
A sometimes shocking, occasionally bizarre and often amusing portrayal of a place that, despite its undeniable achievements since 1989, is still something of a parallel world within united Germany.
In Stasiland… [Funder] spiritedly plunges herself into “this land gone wrong” and attempts to understand a regime like the German Democratic Republic through the stories of ordinary men and women, ‘not just the activists or the famous writers.’ The result is a terrific act of life-giving to a people—17 million of them—who have hitherto lacked not just a voice but an audience.
Brilliantly illustrates the weird, horrifying, viciously cruel place that was Cold War East Germany . . . As well as the horror, Funder writes superbly of the absurdities of the Stasi.
A highly-readable and stylishly-written account of the Stasi’s 40 year reign of terror.
Funder combines a compelling narrative with a humanity that breaks down history into a living and breathing reality, returning dignity to a people who were governed by an all-seeing and all-condemning-eye . . . A beautiful and very moving book, it’s a wake-up call to a world that prefers to forget, and a testament to the importance of remembering that history is made up of personal stories that need to be heard.
Brilliant account of the brutal histories of people whose lives were shaped by the Berlin Wall.
Sickening and brilliant.
A terrific read.
Extraordinary tales of the country after the fall of the Berlin Wall . . . She also writes superbly about what it is like to live in Berlin today.
Memoir and travelogue combine in this moving, Samuel Johnson prize-winning look at the former East Germany and its terrifyingly intrusive state security system.
Stasiland, Anna Funder’s award-winning expose of the devastating effects of the work of the secret police inside East Germany, is leaving bookshops at a rate rarely seen with serious factual works… At times it reads more like a thriller than a historical survey.
A fascinating book . . . If you want a glimpse of what life was like under Stalinism this book is an enjoyable read.
Wonderful . . . Funder displays an eye for telling detail in charting the intimate stories of ordinary people and ex-Stasi officers.
Goes beyond Orwell . . . What the reader learns from these stories is that evil swings like a pendulum, from the banal to the surreal, but no matter where it is in the spectrum, it always leaves pain behind.
As well as the horror, Funder writes superbly of the absurdities of the Stasi.
The true poignancy of this book lies in the evocation Funder conjures up of life under a brutal regime. Stasiland is a book of depth and conviction. Funder brings a novelist’s sensibilities to this previously overlooked period of history. It is a highly impressive debut.
Many of the revelations are quite incredible.
Funder is a superb interviewer… she truly excels in the rendering of her sessions with former Stasi employees. This foreign perspective adds a unique dimension to Stasiland. Funder seems to be asking all the questions East and West Germans should be asking themselves. In the book’s stunning opening, she describes herself being hungover in Berlin and bumping into things on the street: ‘Tomorrow bruises will develop on my skin, like a picture from a negative.’ It is a perfect description of the astonishing effect Stasiland has on the reader: a slow-motion understanding of decades of human pain and cruelty.
A fascinating book. It is written with rare literary flair. I can think of no better introduction to the brutal reality of East German repression.
Funder examines a regime built on lies: truly a story that needed to be told….Funder’s eye for eccentric detail and her ear for cutting dialogue bring these interviews with ex-Stasi men and survivors alive. A worthy winner of this year’s BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.
She approaches her subject impartially and without the baggage of internal German debates, she retells the classic stories of perpetrators and victims, stories from Stasiland… instructive above all is the juxtaposition of differing ideologies and fates, which say much about each other. Anna Funder remains an alert observer and never slips into sentimentality.
The detail of her cases is so powerful as to disarm
Funder’s strength lies in not trying to be all-encompassing, but rather to make the phenomenon of East Germany more intimate – to put it on a level which we can all understand, the personal level . . . Funder’s book will stand the test of time and will always be a sobering reminder of the dangers of blind adherence to an ideology . . . Compelling reading.
A gripping, often chilling account . . . Funder’s exceptional investigation is required reading.
A book of depth and conviction. Funder brings a novelist’s sensibilities to this previously overlooked period of history.
Stasiland takes us on a grim journey into a country in which the ratio of watchers to watched was even higher than that of the Soviets under communism. But that’s nothing compared to the mind-boggling accounts and anecdotes collected by Funder, most of them tragic, some occasionally comic in a black way, about the impact of the Wall.
By turns funny, heartbreaking and stirring. [Funder] tells the story of the collapse of a way of life with wit, style and sympathy.
A compelling, sad, blackly funny and well-written book.
Extraordinary tales of survival and subversion in the most perfected surveillance state of all time.
She describes the curious intoxication of uncovering the lost world of the cold war… and what she finds, among its dead letter drops and torture chambers, is truly chilling.
Tells extraordinary tales of the country after the fall of the Berlin Wall… She also writes superbly about what it is like to live in Berlin today
As well as the horror, Funder writes superbly of the absurdities of the Stasi.
Anna Funder’s Stasiland offers a series of fascinating stories about people whom the author encountered on her visit to the former German Democratic Republic after the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall in November 1989… It’s a book which offers remarkable insight into the lives of individual Germans in the communist East under the ever-watchful eyes of the internal security army of the DDR, the Stasi.
Anna Funder’s portraits of these products of State paranoia are by turns funny, heartbreaking and stirring. She tells the story of the collapse of a way of life with wit, style and sympathy.
A compelling hybrid of journalism, biography and personal history… In clean striking prose she shifts with graceful ease from the telling blushes and tics, habits and souvenirs of her subjects to the concrete evidence of official documents to reveal the persistent effects of vast events. But her great skill is the ability to contextualise the personal story with larger-scale historical events… Funder finds a quiet profundity in all the arrogance, myopia, frailty, compassion and ostalgie of her subjects and reveals the joys and claustrophobic particularities of life in the GDR.
Anna Funder has written an absolutely compelling book about the recent history of the former East Germany… Booksellers should have no hesitation in recommending Stasiland to all and sundry.
Funder’s very readable blend of investigative and reflective reporting already shows considerable talent – short-listed in her native Australia for various literary awards. Recommended.
Funder, uncovers extraordinary tales of survival and subversion in the most perfected surveillance state of all time.
Anna Funder’s Stasiland is an exceptionally strong debut, a perceptive and gracefully written account of the author’s experiences in Berlin during the 1990s, seeking out the stories of those who had experienced the oppressive regime of the German Democratic Republic.
Grim tales from the dismal heyday of the GDR, the most monitored society in human history.
Funder recounts dissidents’ tales of having their shoes irradiated and families betraying each other. Fascinating.