Anna Funder

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Stasiland Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Anna Funder's Stasiland. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Anna Funder

Anna Funder was born in Australia and spent much of her childhood in Paris. She later studied at Freie University in Berlin, and received an MA from the University of Melbourne. She trained as a human rights lawyer, and worked for the Australian government throughout the 1980s and 90s, after which she turned to writing full-time. Her first book, Stasiland (2003) was awarded the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, the world’s biggest monetary award for nonfiction writing in the English language, and her follow-up, the novel All That I Am (2011), was awarded the Miles Franklin Prize, the most prestigious award Australia offers.
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Historical Context of Stasiland

The overarching historical event described in Stasiland is, of course, the rise of the East German state. In the years following World War Two, the Allied powers occupied the western half of Germany, while Soviet troops occupied the east. By the late 1940s, the Soviet Union had established a satellite Communist state in East Germany. Over the course of the next forty years, East Germany instituted a set of authoritarian policies, running surveillance on its own citizens and jailing dissidents and critics of the government. By the late 1980s, East Germany was in a state of near-collapse. In 1989, demonstrators tore down the Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 by East German troops to prevent East Germans from fleeing into West Berlin. In the early nineties, following the liberalization of the Soviet Union, East Germany collapsed, its leaders fled in disgrace, and Germany was reunified.

Other Books Related to Stasiland

Stasiland bears an interesting resemblance to several of the works of W.G. Sebald, especially The Emigrants (1992) and Austerlitz (2001). In his books—which, like Stasiland, are hard to categorize, blending elements of the novel, memoir, and personal essay—Sebald deals with themes of memory, guilt, and trauma, often set against the backdrop of 20th-century German history. Readers who enjoy Funder’s writing style and descriptions of being a wandering stranger in another country might enjoy Travels with Herodotus (2004), a collection of loosely-linked travel essays by the great Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński.
Key Facts about Stasiland
  • Full Title: Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
  • When Written: 2001-2003
  • Where Written: Berlin, Melbourne, and London
  • When Published: Fall 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Cold War history
  • Setting: Berlin and Leipzig
  • Climax: Anna Funder reunites with Miriam Weber
  • Antagonist: The East German state
  • Point of View: First person (Funder)

Extra Credit for Stasiland

A play’s the thing. Stasiland is currently being developed as a play by London’s National Theater.

Stranger in a strange land. Anna Funder moved back to Australia with her husband and children after living in Brooklyn for three years. Her explanation was simple: “My kids are of an age where we had to decide whether they were going to be American or whether they were going to be Australian. We decided that we really want them to be Australian.”