Any German who visited school after 1972 will have read this book as well as Goethe's “The Sorrows of Young Werther” (which probably will have been read by any German visting school after 1774).
Same as the original "Sorrows", the "New Sufferings" spoke to the people. Ulrich Plenzdorf grew up in the German Democratic Republic. His play is not a nostalgic memoir of one of the greatest stories ever written in the German language, it is a criticism of society.
We hear about a young man reading Goethe's masterpiece and finding a lot of similarities to his own life. The author uses the slang the youth language of the time which contributes to the familiar feeling you get when reading about this young man and his problems.
The play was an instant success in both parts of Germany and certainly belongs to the major works by German authors.