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The Gereon Rath series in translation

Today we're delighted to share Managing Director Robert Davidson's thoughts on bringing Volker Kutscher's Gereon Rath series to an English-speaking audience for the first time.

We at Sandstone Press were enormously excited by the whole idea of crime in Weimar Germany through the decade leading to the Second World War. Part of the interest, of course, is that the reader knows where history is going while the protagonists’ event horizon is no further ahead than would be normal in a world where technology was only just leading out of silent movies and into the talkies.

I had met Kiepenheur & Witsch (KiWi) editor Iris Brandt at Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015 and was immediately enamoured of the series she suggested. KiWi are the original German language publishers, based in Cologne, and an independent like ourselves. We took on the first book (Babylon Berlin) at no small risk but were confident of the series quality and what we could do with it. Having struck up a friendly working relationship with KiWi, we engaged a brilliant young translator named Niall Sellar who was at that time teaching in London. A rapport was quickly achieved between him and the author, a former journalist named Volker Kutscher.

Soon, draft translations were passing between London and Cologne, then London and Dingwall (where our office was located at the time). The teamwork was remarkable from the outset, as has been the esprit de corps, and this grouping was widened when we brought in cover designer Mark Swan. Mark was immediately in tune with the overall project and has produced one of the most distinctive, and frankly beautiful, series designs in crime.

Eventually, the series was taken for television and broadcast as Babylon Berlin, now in its third series and the third being based on The Silent Death, where the crime has everything to do with stardom and the German movie industry. The books just keep getting better and better, and working on them ever more enjoyable, a feeling that is being shared with a growing number of enthusiasts.

This September, Sandstone Press has published The March Fallen, the fifth of a prospective ten titles. So, half way…

Volker Kutscher

Volker Kutscher