Ulrike Edschmid

A Man Who Falls - Novel

(German title: Ein Mann, der fällt)
ca. 194 pages
Ulrike Edschmid
Foto: Ulrike Edschmid
© SebastianEdschmid

Ulrike Edschmid, born in 1940, pursued literary studies in Berlin and Frankfurt and studied at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, where she continues to live. She writes prose and literary non-fiction and is also famous for her art. In 2013, she was awarded the Grimmelshausen Prize and in 2014, the Cotta Prize for her lifework.

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A different view of the world


Summer 1986. Berlin-Charlottenburg. A man climbs up onto a ladder to paint the ceiling of a flat in a turn-of-the-century building he intends to move into with his partner. He loses his balance and falls. Afterwards, nothing at all is like it was. Little else could have shattered the life of two people at the beginning of their future together in such a brutal way. But what at first seems like an ending slowly turns into the exploration of an unknown continent: one’s own life.

The struggle with paraplegia and the forced slowing down of everyday life come together against the backdrop of a city that is changing rapidly after the fall of the Wall. Iranian dissidents, Russian nouveau riche and Roma refugees arriving from the former Yugoslavia are moving in. Decades go by, but the flat in the corner building remains observation point and refuge, exposed and protected. Down on the street below, life not only moves more quickly but is louder, rawer and more violent. And then the building empties again leaving only the old couple behind – together with their lifelong attempt to hold out against all odds.

After the great success of her novel The Disappearance of Philip S., Ulrike Edschmid once again proves herself a powerful storyteller of the nature of misfortune. And the other view of the world we acquire from just such an experience.



»An impressive novel (…) with its laconic, almost report-like objectivity it creates a virtually addictive undertow.« Peter Henning, Spiegel Online


»Edschmid’s novel remains stylistically cool, almost record-like. Through everyday scenes and city sketches, German history unfolds as casually and unheroically as it often does in reality.« Katharina Teutsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


»The narrator depicts the man’s struggle with his ›mute‹ body from up close, relentlessly, precisely, but at the same time with great respect. She does not judge, nor interpret, she does not quote a single discussion directly; but it is precisely through this matter-of-fact tone, through the distance of the observed who refrains from speaking, that she manages to tell such a story with full force.« Anke Dürr, LITERATUR SPIEGEL Mai 2017


»Ulrike Edschmid’s great talent lies in her ability to be able to tell an autobiographical or realistic story while simultaneously maintaining a distance to reality. […] The novel unfolds in such a powerful but subtle manner that, in no time at all, the reader finds him or herself caught up in the life being told.« Cornelia Geissler, Frankfurter Rundschau


»Ulrike Edschmid masterfully commands this mixture of reduction and very precise selection. It is the opposite of sentimental and nevertheless extremely emotional – all the same it is never direct. « Anne-Dore Krohn, rbb kulturradio


»Her sense of both the concrete and the atmospheric is truly admirable. There is not a single false sentence in Ulrike Edschmid’s writing, but not because she is in any way polemic.« Jury for the SWR-Best-Of-List Prize 2013

Other publications

Das Verschwinden des Philip S./The Disappearance of Philip S. (2013)

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