Advanced Search

Add Best Comp

Add comparable title

Remove comparable title

Biblioasis Fall 2021

The World at My Back
By (author): Thomas Melle Translated by: Luise von Flotow
Thomas Melle ,

Translated by :

Luise von Flotow





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Feb 21, 2023
$22.95 CAD


8.25in x 5.25 x 0.86 in | 1 gr
Memoirs|Biography: writers|Biography: science, technology and medicine|Abnormal psychology|Psychiatric and mental disorders

A writer's wrenching, no-holds-barred confession about his experiences with bipolar disorder.

Thomas Melle, a successful young novelist and playwright, suddenly sells off his library without knowing why he's doing it. His personal life disintegrates as his behaviour becomes more irrational. Drunken frenzies, wild imaginings, fantasies about sex with stars, broken relationships, professional scandals, scuffles with the police, and enforced stays on psych wards. take over Melle's life. Possibly the most, precise, intense account ever written of how it feels to suffer from bipolar disorder, The World at My Back is a triumph of truth-telling and a masterpiece of elegant literary expression. Balancing exquisite writing with fearless confrontations with brutally self-destructive actions, this book is a wrenching confession and a moving description of the search for emotional balance.

Born in Bonn, Germany, Thomas Melle studied at the University of Tübingen, University of Texas at Austin and the Free University of Berlin. His novels Sickster and 3000 Euros were finalists for German Book Prize in 2011 and 2014 respectively. Melle is also a prolific playwright and translator. His translations from English to German have ranged from plays by William Shakespeare to novels by William T. Vollmann. The World at My Back, also a finalist for the German Book Prize, was a best seller. It was made into a highly successful stage play, and has been translated into eighteen languages. Thomas Melle lives in Berlin.

Luise von Flotow teaches translation studies at the University of Ottawa School of Translation and Interpretation. Her recent translations include, from German, They Divided the Sky by Christa Wolf and Everyone Talks About the Weather. We Don’t by Ulrike Meinhof; and, from French, The Four Roads Hotel by France Théoret. She has twice been a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Literary Translation.

Key selling points
  • Contemporary issues: an immersive, no-holds-barred memoir of severe mental illness. Compare with Esme Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias, Susannah Calahan’s Brain on Fire, Mary Karr’s Lit
  • Published in Germany in 2016, The World at My Back was a runaway bestseller, appealing to a contemporary Germany that longed to see itself reflected as a country not convulsed by Nazism or East German Communism, but is a rather ordinary 21st-century European country where people have ordinary problems like how to pay the rent while suffering from mental illness. Foreign rights have since sold in eighteen languages.
  • Melle has been thrice shortlisted for the German Book Prize and won the Franz Hessel Prize, the Berlin Art Prize, and the Klopstock Prize. He studied comparative literature and philosophy at the University of Texas
  • Print run: 7,500 copies
  • Co-op available
  • Advance reader copies
  • Edelweiss digital review copies
  • National TV & radio campaign
  • National print media campaign
  • Online and social media campaign
  • E-book available at same time as print edition
  • Virtual launch and festival appearances
  • Excerpts and interviews in Lit Hub, Electric Lit

Praise for The World at My Back

"Books written out of great emotional distress are often embarrassing. They are rarely great literature. Thomas Melle's book is great literature because he pulls it off without a single false note."—Deutschlandfunk (German National Radio)

"Haunting insights into a bipolar identity as seen from the inside … Precisely because it is not a question of fiction—even if there is much talk of literature, even of a 'failed novel of education'—but of a poetic of the authentic, The World at My Back is an impressive document."—Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung

"The author of the book is Thomas Melle, his book is called The World at My Back, and it tells of a much greater conflict and a much greater shame than you, as a reader, will probably ever feel ... Manic-depressive disorder is the tragedy of Thomas Melle’s life. That we can read about it in this book in this way is a wrenching literary event."—Die Zeit

"The World at My Back is a book that shakes and disturbs, one that wakes the reader with a punch in the skull, as Franz Kafka wrote ... Melle's text is unique because the author manages to draw you into the action and, as far as possible, give you a realistic impression of the illness … In spite of the desperation and darkness of the subject, you can hardly help but smile at the absurdities—even as they immediately stick in your throat. Added to this is Melle's lively storytelling style, which alone lifts the book well above the wide selection of memoirs of illness."—Literaturkritik

of 18

Forgotten Password

Please enter your email address and click submit. An email with instructions on resetting your password will be sent to you.

Forgotten Password

An email has been sent out with instructions for resetting your password.