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The Samuel Johnson Prize 2004

The Samuel Johnson Prize 2004

The Winner

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (Granta)

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in fifty East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany – she meets Miriam, who as a sixteen-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to ‘no longer to exist’. This is history full of emotion, attitude and complexity.

Winning Author

Anna Funder

Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966 and grew up there and in Paris. She has worked as an international lawyer and a radio and television producer. In 1997 she was writer-in-residence at the Australia Centre in Potsdam. Stasiland – which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and in Australia for The Age Book of the Year and the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards for non-fiction – is her first book. She lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter.