New Year


When a family vacation turns into a nightmare

Lanzarote on New Year’s Day: Henning is cycling up the steep path to Femés. As he struggles against the wind and the gradient he takes stock of his life. He has a job, a wife, two children—yet hardly recognizes himself anymore. Panic attacks have been pouncing on him like demons. When he finally reaches the pass in utter exhaustion, a mysterious coincidence unveils a repressed yet vivid memory, plunging him back into childhood and the traumatic event that almost cost him and his sister their lives. In this compelling and darkly psychological novel, Juli Zeh tells the breathtaking story of two small children who, in the middle of a holiday in paradise, end up in hell and live to tell the tale.

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Publication date

November 2, 2021




Juli Zeh

Juli Zeh studied law in Passau and Leipzig, and holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Saarbrücken. She is one of Germany’s most successful authors … Read more

Book Club Questions

  1. Did you enjoy New Year? Why?
  2. Did you connect particularly strongly with either the adults’ or the children’s story?
  3. In what ways is the main character’s childhood reflected in his present life?
  4. What is the role of fantasy in Henning’s life? Is it different from the role it plays in Theresa’s life?
  5. What is the monster?
  6. Was the monster fantasy just a facade for the underlying fear that his mother had abandoned him to pursue her own pleasure?
  7. What do the painted stones mean?
  8. Does Theresa have an escape, like Henning has his cycling?
  9. Is Theresa and Henning’s marriage a relatively happy one?
  10. Were any of their conversations recognizable?
  11. What is the role of (fabricated, suppressed, …) memory in the way characters organize their lives?
  12. Does Henning’s knowledge of what really happened when they were kids cause him to treat his sister differently? Or was it just the final drop, or a catalyst?
  13. What will Luna do now?
  14. What does Luna mean to Theresa? Does she represent a threat on any level?
  15. What did Juli Zeh capture about modern life in New Year?

Author Video

Translator Video

Author Reading in German

Book Trailer


Praise for Juli Zeh

“Zeh challenges readers to consider how complicit we are in our current political dilemmas.”
Los Angeles Times

Praise for New Year

“In this wrenching psychological portrait from Zeh, a character’s buried traumatic past distorts his memory and loosens his grip on reality…The tale’s startling climax, which reveals the roots of Henning’s neuroses and the unreliability of his perspective, is perfectly executed, with the author adopting a child’s-eye view of past events that is colored by nostalgia and terrifying vulnerability. Zeh’s novel skillfully asks how a person can come to terms with a painful past that has been intentionally misremembered for the purpose of sustaining one’s mental health. Readers, though, will have no trouble remembering this.”
Publishers Weekly, *starred review*

“This spine-tingler captures the peak of what appears to be a spectacularly hallucinatory middle-aged crisis.”
Kirkus Reviews, *starred review*

“Because both the thriller and the analysis of society are here intertwined so densely, New Year is perhaps Juli Zeh’s best book to date.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung

New Year is an impressively original book whose elegant construction testifies to Zeh’s writerly prowess.”
New Books in German

“Past experience is part of us, like a code in computer software―Zeh, in her usual straightforward way, has condensed this to make a compact novel.”

“A thrilling, cinematic story.”
VPRO Boeken

“With New Year, Juli Zeh has succeeded in writing a lost-memory thriller and at the same time an accurate psychogram of today’s overwhelmed fathers.”

“With New Year, Juli Zeh shows that good entertainment can indeed be easily coupled with depth and literary quality. This psycho-thriller is thus well on its way to becoming a bestseller.”
SRF 2 Kultur

“A compact, highly concentrated story with gripping dynamics and a superb ‘aha’ effect.”

“Juli Zeh has written not only an enthralling psychogram of a man, but also quite nearly a classical tragedy.”
Südwest Presse

Praise for Eagles and Angels

“Folding the story of Max’s tortured love for both women into a larger chronicle of European drug smuggling and related war crimes, Zeh weaves a nightmarishly effective tale of personal and societal collapse.”
Publishers Weekly

“Zeh’s style is always enjoyable. She writes brittle little sentences, trying to shock and often succeeding. Her characters are vivacious and thrilling; she tussles with big themes, and is fuelled by an admirable fury … what shines through is Zeh’s exhilarating ambition, as she dares to plunge deep into the dark heart of Europe and expose its core.”
The Guardian


Praise for Empty Hearts

Empty Hearts has the veneer of a thriller but it’s more accurate to call it a chiller: chilling in the accuracy of its satire and chilling in its diagnosis of our modern malaise.”
New York Times

“Darkly entertaining … A thoughtful political thriller with a provocative sense of humor.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Will keep readers turning the pages … Zeh makes it easy to suspend disbelief in this cold-blooded and macabre future.”
Publishers Weekly

Empty Hearts explores interesting ideas about the price of failure to act against tyranny and the moral complicity of people who capitalize on a bad situation, or do nothing in the hopes that it will all go away.”
Los Angeles Times


“2019 has seen a string of novelists exploring the destabilized Western political psyche, but Empty Hearts strikes me as one of the strongest so far. It asks, what if the current political climate led not to catastrophe, but to stagnation? Its answer comes in the form of both a riveting thriller and a nuanced piece of social science fiction—predictive and precautionary … Brilliantly executed—one of the stand-outs of the year.”
New Scientist


“A gripping, character-driven thriller that’s rooted in insightful political commentary—perfect for beach reading and book groups.”



Praise for Dark Matter


“A thrilling read as well as a terrific mental workout.”

The Guardian


“A clever and truly entertaining read.”
The Independent


“Zeh constructs an impressive matrix of information for each of her key players and provides descriptions that are vivid and original … Her often unexpected imagery is precise and pithy—this philosophical thriller is well paced; one turns the pages impatient for the denouement.”
Times Literary Supplement

“Juli Zeh’s new novel Dark Matter combines crime novel, love story, and physical speculation.”

Die Tageszeitung


“A compelling novel, thrilling yet profound … This book makes for a wonderful read, gripping until the last page. A masterpiece!”
Financial Times Deutschland


Praise for Decompression

“Zeh’s award-winning thriller climaxes with a scene of splendid drama.”
The Guardian


“Deftly translated by John Cullen, Zeh plays with our expectations throughout … Like The Method, this is a story about obsession—this time with status, looks, and celebrity culture.”

The Independent


“Erotic intrigue, deep-sea diving and clients from hell make for a lively mix—the gathering suspense is complemented by nuanced characterization in a pleasingly unpredictable work.”

Kirkus Reviews


“A mesmerizing and disturbing psychological thriller … Zeh’s talent pulls this morally murky tale up from the depths and toward a redeeming light.”
Wall Street Journal

“A deft thriller.”
Publishers Weekly

“Gripping … Zeh is exceptional at building tension, and her use of shifting viewpoints keeps the reader guessing to the end. A darkly comic thriller that is impossible to put down.”

Library Journal

“A tale that unfolds at a high level of psychological excitement.”

Der Spiegel

“A nightmarish, furious, cold thriller … Juli Zeh is at her literary best when she’s describing underwater silence, when she’s describing situations in which isolation is total and the world as it exists above water is bidden farewell. This is phenomenal.” 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

“Juli Zeh’s love-triangle drama easily bears comparison with the work of Patricia Highsmith, doyenne of the conspicuously amoral.” 




Praise for The Method


“This is a brilliant, disturbing and wildly imaginative picture of the nanny state run mad; how far should the State be allowed to poke its nose into a citizen’s business?”

The Times


“Zeh seems to have won every European literary prize going … Three years since its first publication in German (it is translated here with tremendous gusto by Sally-Ann Spencer), Zeh’s novel is even more relevant to our over-structured, over-quantified times.”
The Guardian


“An impressively plausible account of a conformist society disguised as a utopia.”
The Independent


“In Sally-Ann Spencer’s superb translation from the German, Juli Zeh’s novel gives form to a dystopia that remains hauntingly recognizable.”
Times Literary Supplement


“Thoughtful and intelligent—Zeh’s main character Mia is an intellectual heroine as much as a physical rebel.”

Sunday Herald


Praise for In Free Fall

“Erudite digressions and vivid characters—such as a detective with a trusting nature who learns always ‘to assume the opposite of what she was thinking’—combine with a devastating 11th-hour reveal to make a memorable intellectual thriller.”
Publishers Weekly

“An elegant quasi-thriller about physics, murder, and the solving of murders … This is one of the best books of the year. Zeh has enough control to keep the murder from being lurid and the physics from being dull. Her prose is sharp and often witty, and the excellent translation means every moment shines brightly.”
New York Observer

“A highly cinematic thriller … Zeh’s smart novel will appeal to a wide range of readers.”
Library Journal

“Add a hospital scandal and two of the quirkiest detectives in fiction, mix with Juli Zeh’s thrumming, moody prose, and you have one of the finest crime novels you’ll read.”
Herald Sun

“It is such a delight to watch Juli Zeh play her entire repertoire of literary skill … challenging the conventions of the classical detective story with subtle irony.”
Die Zeit

“A masterfully constructed story of an intense friendship between two physicists, a marriage, a kidnapping, and a murder, In Free Fall plunges the reader into a hyper-reality that is as seductive as it is disturbing.”
The Boston Globe

“Give me a crime novel of ideas, where two physics professors, friends, and rivals, opposites but startlingly similar, do emotional battle on an intellectual canvas, raise the stakes through betrayal, the possible kidnapping of a child, and embroil a romantic-leaning police detective in the complicated machinations of quantum theory, and holy hell, I think I have myself one of my favorite books of the year.” 
Los Angeles Times

“The most intellectually satisfying thriller you’ll read this summer … Slyly intelligent and enigmatic … The brainiac’s beach read.”
The Daily Beast

In Free Fall is very clever … and often astounding … A wonderful exhibition of bravura novel writing.”
Curled Up With A Good Book

“A novel from Juli Zeh’s pen is always an adventure, because each of them opens up an entirely new world … This is Juli Zeh’s unique talent: her sharp intellect absorbs the most complex issues, including elementary particles, to then put them into words with such playful precision it makes you swoon … In Free Fall takes the bird’s-eye view, unorthodox, nerve-racking, simply unforgettable—like Hitchcock’s masterpiece.”

In Free Fall is the virtuosic presentation of an amazing narration. Juli Zeh steers through with confidence and ease.”
Welt am Sonntag

“A gripping, high-toned philosophical thriller … Readers who can surrender to Zeh’s radical rewriting of the rules of detective fiction and the physical universe will find it revelatory.”
Kirkus Reviews