HAVARIE the novel

The research for the film HAVARIE was starting point and inspiration for the novel of the same title, written by Merle Kröger. The book received the Radio Bremen Crime Novel Award 2015 and the German Crime Novel Award 2016. Kröger: "Reality is much more dramatic, violent and incomprehensible than fiction. I decided to take the encounter between the ships as the cause to freeze time, to create a 3-D model from this situation which I can observe from all perspectives. In this kind of model space I now step into each character's role and try to let him or her think and act on the basis of their individual biographies.


argument Publishing House Hamburg, May 2015

• KrimiZeit Critiques' Monthly Best List, No. 1 (June, July & August 2015)

• Hotlist (Independent Publishers) 2015

• Radio Bremen Crime Novel Award 2015

• KrimiZeit Critiques' Annual Best List, No. 1 (national), 2015

• German Crime Novel Award (National, 2nd rank) 2016



Jury Statement for the German Crime Novel Award 16/01/2016
Dr. Kirsten Reimers

"Havarie" by Merle Kroeger is a complex, multi-layered novel. The author has also made a documentary film on the encounter of the ships which will enter the cinemas in 2016. The film has left traces in the book: brief chapters, clear cuts, short passages like a script - the pure form of storytelling is broken up. (...) That's how the novel crosses the limits towards the documentary genre, but still remains purely fictional - a multi-faceted, intelligent, brave and complex novel.


Reviews (selection):

Deutschlandfunk, "Book Market"
Andreas Ammer

" (...) one of the most intelligent novelties of the year 2015, and this praise does include not just the crime genre but the German book market in general."


Der Freitag 30/04/2015
Thekla Dannenberg

"Havarie" is the novel of the hour. Everybody attached to Europe and the Mediterranean should read it. Merle Kroeger does not tell a refugee drama. Or at least not only. She tells in fast changing perspectives a story of departure and failure, a story about the fascination of the seas and a shipping trade which has thrown all moral values over board for cost efficiency. (...) But first and foremost Kroeger proves with "Havarie" two things: how terrific a decided political literature is and how elaborate the German crime novel.


Die Welt, 09/05/2015
Elmar Krekeler

"Havarie" is a docu-fiction-essay-thriller-novel. (...) The sea of stories, crossed by this novel, is actually a mouth of hell. And in the mythical hours in which Merle Kroeger's characters are frozen in time, the world is put to the test onboard four ships. The tight dramaturgy of the storylines, their counterpoints, push these characters again and again towards a point, in which they have to take decisions and to prove themselves. They have to think and act as autonomous beings, not resulting from their position, origin or nationality, but from their inner attitude and belief.


Spiegel Online, 05/06/2015
Marcus Müntefering

The presence is permeable in this story, full of holes, and through these holes Kroeger intrudes deep into history. The novel turns into a time machine, which for a few sentences, paragraphs or pages logs into the memories of the protagonists. Scattered pieces, never turning into a complete picture, but creating a panorama, a collage from  snippets, telling from war and from displacement, from despair and resistance, and sometimes even from hope. (...) Storytelling also means to establish order. That this order is just an illusion, Merle Kroeger conveys impressively.


WDR Funkhaus Europa, 02/06/2015
Ulrich Noller

"Havarie" is a terrific novel; definitely a thriller in it's origin and structure; but much more a testimony of our times, a storytelling piece of art of immense documentary power. "Havarie" is extraordinary, a novel of the year, no doubt about it.


ARD ttt, 08/06/2015
Yasemin Ergin

In this compelling, elegantly constructed novel Merle Kroeger masters the balancing act between reality and fiction. The reader from now on will have a more detailed view - and might be able to let the humans behind the news images come closer towards him- or herself.


More German reviews 2015/2016: