Licence: Synopsis | Novel by Marco Sagurna

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Who will read WARMIA

People who love unusual love stories. Those who love fiction rooted in real history. People hungry for creations that find their own way. Those who treasure surprises. Those who love to be drawn through a bow of suspense. And be held in suspense. Readers who enjoy the work of Saša Stanišić, Andrzej Stasiuk, Robert Seethaler, Michael Köhlmeier and Artur Becker.


Heroes and Supporting Characters

First person narrator Tina, in her mid to late thirties, commercial artist and artist. He, Adam Kauka, early to mid-forties, architect & journalist. Physically absent, but permeating the story: Tina’s so-called father, the man who links the lives of Tina and Adam in such a fateful way. Besides: the woman Tina calls Aunt Inge, a housekeeper; Tina’s Polish artist colleague Paulina and her friend Elena who is a blogger; both these women are are around Tina’s age; Adam Kauka’s mother Cecilie, his Aunt Maria and his uncles Franz and Ludwig, who were all born in the early 1930s. There’s also Althoffs – a farm couple, Frauke – a professor of art, car-mechanic Lucas and his wife Karolina who works as a spray technician.


Where the story happens

Beginning – For Tina – the story starts in a large North-German city, which could be Hamburg and – for Adam Kauka it begins in the area around Frankfurt-am-Main; the main action moves from the small town of Vechta in Lower Saxony to the polish administrative district of Ermland-Masuren and to Lidzbark (Heilsberg) and Reszel (Röβel). The action begins in 2002 and ends in 2008; flashing back to the period between the 1930s and the mid twentieth century.


Structure & Size

The story is told from the changing perspectives of the subjective first-person narrator, a neutral narrator and dialogue which illuminates varying perspectives. There are 17 chapters. The author’s style makes use of long and short sentences, contrasted with broken or unfinished sentences in chatty conversation and dialogue. The self-reflexive monologues of the two main protagonists are contrasted with cinematic action. The past embraced in the narrative is enkindled like intimate theatre; it is infused with a few literary and documentary quotations and a touch of poetry.

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In a shrewd move artist Tina has just left her partner Dietmar by whose side she has come to feel herself little more than a trophy wife. After her so-called father, who has abused her, Dietmar is the second man from whom she has had to flee. To give men any kind of a chance Tina now wants to get to know her half-brother Adam. She contacts him by email from a motorway service station, while on her way to an art workshop in Poland, accompanied by her photographer friend Paulina.

Could you possibly be my brother? Adam is sitting in Burg Heilsberg  a castle-fortress, which is now a hotel, his laptop in front of him, when the question pops up. Already in inner turmoil, this question strikes him like an electric shock. Just recovered from a serious illness, Adam is making a fresh start. Newly aware of his east prussian origins he has travelled to the home-place of his ancestors, in Poland.

WARMIA is the story of a sudden and bruising love between brother and sister. It’s about pain and violence, abuse and power, war and banishment, flight and terror, healing and harm. It’s about East Prussia and the new Poland. It’s about strong women. It’s about religion and history. It’s about friendship and intimacy. And it’s about a tragedy. Tina loves her long-lost brother, however, meeting him is something she can barely tolerate because, in Adam, she sees the reflection of her so-called father. 


In Greater Detail

When they first meet, half-siblings Adam Kauka and Tina are mature adults. They have both come through personal traumas in the recent past. Both are pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones and, for different reasons, independently of each other, they are both making their way to Poland.

Tina has just left Dietmar with the help of Aunt Inge. Rescued by Inge she has succeeded in liberating herself from a blighted love. Having fled the abuse of her so-called father, fleeing from the shackles of a marriage which has become torment, this is Tina’s second path into an autonomous new life, on a pathway of her own choice. This path leads her into art, to Vechta and to Poland.

Adam Kauka’s path into a new life is made possible by his illness and by an employer who gladly seizes on an economic downturn as a chance to make Kauka and some of his colleagues redundant. To do this, the employer has used a recently recruited hard-man, prepared to use every dirty trick in the book to achieve success. Though his career is shot to pieces, Kauka is left financially independent and flees into the future through a journey into his family’s past.

Kauka’s family consists of his mother who has reared him on her own. Expelled from her home-place, a large farm in East Prussia at the end of the Second World War, displaced as a refugee, she was forced to make a new life for herself. A life that begins in Vechta. In order to know where I’m, I want to know where I have come from. Adam invites his mother and her siblings to spend a few days with him in a guesthouse in the forest so that he may hear all about the East Prussia they knew. About work and courage. About life and soul, About love and freedom. About war and death. About loss and anguish. And about a new beginning.

It is in Vechta that Tina and Adam come face to face for the first time. Coincidence? Parking side by side, they notice each other. Both are driving old cars. How much more they have in common, stampedes through the story, as Tina – on her way to Poland with her friend Paulina – decides to meet her half-brother Adam. They find each other online. She sees his photo. And then she is certain: this is the man she met in the car-park. As Tina contacts him, Adam is on the trail of his family in Poland. He is sitting in the hotel bar of Burg Heilsberg, stronghold of the medieval Teutonic Order.

Tina’s goal is the art academy in another teutonic castle-fortress – Burg Rössel. It’s not far from Heilsberg, where Tina and Adam meet for the first time as brother and sister. They meet on their personal flights into a country whose history is so thoroughly permeated with flight and expulsion, since the knights of the Teutonic Order fell here in the Middle Ages. Tina and Adam encounter people and their recent histories of flight and expulsion. People who are fed up of war, which goes on and on, which turns people into refugees, drives them from their homeland and from each other.

In Poland Tina and Adam meet people of their own generation who aren’t just fed up of war. Paulina and her friends draw them into a spectacular anti-war project. It’s the Barwny Battalion, the colourful battalion, which travels around in brightly coloured, old jeeps. This army doesn’t kill or separate people. This army brings people together.

Inspired by their new Polish friends and their new beginning, Tina and Adam dream wonderful dreams of being brother and sister. That is, if these dreams are not shattered by the man who connects them, their so-called father.



Interviews and conversations with witnesses, travels in Poland, east-prussian literature, essays, reportage, travelogues, stories, novels and poems. Information verification with experts in agriculture, law and banking.


Who has test-read WARMIA

Archaeologist, voracious reader, historical witness, broadcasting executive and daily newspaper publisher: a sharply critical, occasionally complaining and even grumblesome quintet, who were nevertheless gripped by the narrative all the way through and, in the red-wine tribunals at the end of the process, condemned him to the re-working, editing and expansion of the novel. 



Marco Sagurna, born in 1961 in Wiesbaden, has lived in Frankfurt am Main, Vechta, Angers, Oldenburg and since 1999, in Hanover. He studied German literature, art, psychology and cultural management. He has written stories, poetry, pamphlets, literary supplements, as well as articles for newspapers, magazines, books, radio and internet. He was the publisher and joint publisher of the literary journal Grössenwahn (1986-1990) and Eiswasser (1996-2002). Together with Gunter Geduldig he produced the volume of poetry too muchthe long life of Rolf Dieter Brinkman, published in 1994 by Alano Verlag. For fifteen years he worked as newspaper editor and as a press spokesman. In 1998 the Oldenburgische VolkszeitungOldenburg People’s Newspaper – won the German Local Newspapers’ special prize for the day of poetry which he brought into being. In 2004 the publisher, Eiswasser Verlag, where he was chief executive and publisher, was honoured with the Lower Saxony Publishing Prize. 

Maximal a volume of twelve of his poems was published in 1986, as a bound limited-edition, silk-screen printed by the author.

In 2002, as a narrative test, he published, electronically, the experimental novel Erdbeerburg und Trompete kommt um acht  as a story in two versions,  for an extended circle of friends.

His travel-guide to Oldenburg, co-authored with Jörgen Welp, was published in 2013. His novel WARMIA, will be published in a new edition in Kulturmaschinen Verlag Hamburg (2022), appeared at the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair, where it was awarded the First Novel Prize of Pop Verlag.


Synopsis WARMIA: Translation into English by Deirdre McMahon, Dublin⎪© Copyright by Marco Sagurna, Germany.