Excerpt & Giveaway: Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Publication Date: November 7, 2019
Neem Tree Press
Hardcover; 240 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Saga

Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor's daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families' hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why do families repeat destructive patterns of behaviour across generations? Should the personal take precedence over the political? Can we rise above our histories and political identities to forge a new understanding of the past and to welcome change?

Available on Amazon


The encounter had begun at one of his cross-faculty lectures, which I attended from time to time. Usually I sat in one of the back rows, but on that day I could only find a seat in the middle of the lecture theatre. My father spoke about the younger generation’s duties, here and in West Germany; about books that could help them to fulfil these duties. He said that young people, particularly in the West, had to learn to rebel against their parents’ generation and question the fascist past. Most students leaned over their notebooks or stared intently at him. Although I think I know my father’s political views well, indeed mostly share them, at that moment I felt the urge to disagree with him.

I assumed my father hadn’t yet noticed me, and this seemed to be confirmed when I raised my arm and slowly stood. I was pleased that my presence unsettled him: his smooth, pale facial skin, always clean-shaven, reddened. He turned from the lectern and made for the rear exit, as though he would flee the hall. Just before reaching the door, unexpectedly he turned around, raised his head and, with an imperceptible wave of the hand, invited me to speak. Taken aback, I too turned red and, keeping my eyes trained on the rear exit said that, no matter the circumstances, I was unsure if I would be able to sever all ties with my father. As I hurriedly took my seat again, I sensed the students’ stares; then someone clapped, others began to whisper. One student stood up and spoke heatedly about the gas chambers, the concentration camps, the piles of bodies, the silence of the masses. A moment later I felt ashamed of my declaration.

Once the student had finished, my father walked back to the lectern and said in a firm voice, looking directly at one face after another, “In our times, private matters must come second to societal.”

A low murmur went through the room; impossible to identify the culprits. It was of no consolation to finally know for certain that my father hadn’t simply forgotten me and my sisters, but that his lack of attention corresponded to his Weltanschauung✝. So, without getting up again, I shouted that he had been braver once, in the past, but soon I faltered because I realised I knew hardly anything about it; there had been a party process, the exact circumstances of which I was unfamiliar with.

My father didn’t rise to the bait and resumed his lecture. But because his speech now lacked its usual vigour, the hope grew in me that I had touched a raw nerve; and on my way home this hope remained stronger than every other feeling. Yet the more I thought about it, the more inappropriate my behaviour during the lecture now seemed.

About the Author

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Douglas Irving is Scottish. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University. In 2014 he completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story by Anna Seghers was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 7
Feature at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings

Friday, November 8
Review at A Book Geek

Sunday, November 10
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, November 13
Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, November 14
Feature at Lost_in_a_book_reviewer

Friday, November 15
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Monday, November 18
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Tuesday, November 19
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Wednesday, November 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, November 21
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, November 22
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, November 23
Review at Impressions In Ink

Monday, November 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, November 26
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 27
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, November 29
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of A Distant Signs by Anne Richter! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

- Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
- Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Distant Signs

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