The Leipzig Affair


A taut thriller based in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall in which a Scottish exchange student finds himself in a world of deception.


The Leipzig Affair

by Fiona Rintoul

  • Winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction, 2013
  • Nominated for Scottish First Book of the Year Award 2015, Saltire Society
  • BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime


A tale of love, betrayal and redemption in the dying days of the Cold War.

The year is 1985. East Germany is in the grip of communism. Magda, a brilliant but disillusioned young linguist, is desperate to flee to the West. When a black market deal brings her into contact with Robert, a young Scot studying at Leipzig University, she sees a way to realise her escape plans. But as Robert falls in love with her, he stumbles into a complex world of shifting half-truths – one that will undo them both.

Many years later, long after the Berlin Wall has been torn down, Robert returns to Leipzig in search of answers. Can he track down the elusive Magda? And will the past give up its secrets?


“a page-turner that reminds one of the horrors of the cold war and the astonishing fall of the Berlin Wall.” Margaret Drabble

“Deftly told in short, punchy chapters, the thriller is a page-turner that shifts from East to West and the dark days of the 1980s to present reunification.” The Evening Times

“Rintoul pulls the reader through her story with craft and psychological precision, while trawling a satisfyingly long way into her characters’ pasts and futures.” The Scotsman

“Beginning in 1985 and continuing after communism’s sharp decline, journalist and translator Rintoul’s engrossing tale alternates between Robert’s and Magda’s perspectives… vividly anchoring the East German experience. A tense, compelling peek behind the Berlin Wall.” Kirkus Review

“The Leipzig Affair is a gripping, complex debut that thrills through the human stories it tells of the Cold War, stories of flawed individuals caught in circumstances beyond their control, in a world in which nobody can be trusted. A hugely evocative read.” Zoë Strachan, author of Negative Space

“a hugely talented writer, The Leipzig Affair will resonate loud and clear with anyone conscious of the dangers of CCTV culture in modern Britain. A stark warning and a powerful story.” Rodge Glass, author of Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs

“I read this in one go, never quite sure who to trust or believe – the good or the bad. A psychologically complex story that brilliantly reflects disturbing times in a divided city and society. Its sharp, clever, sentences kept me hooked right to the end.” Linda Leatherbarrow, author of Essential Kit

“a story of betrayal only partly redeemed by love, by an author who hauntingly evokes the milieu.” Jonathan Falla, author of The Physician of Sanlucar


About the author

Fiona Rintoul is a writer and translator based in Glasgow in Scotland. She writes fiction and articles, and translates from German and French into English. Fiona’s poems and short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines, including Mslexia and Gutter, and she is a past winner of the Gillian Purvis New Writing Award and the Sceptre Prize.


The Leipzig Affair was BBC Radio 4’s ‘Book at Bedtime’ (March 2015)

Read about Fiona’s experiences in Leipzig in 1986 which led to this novel.



























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