Philipp Weiss

On the edge of the world man sits and laughs - Novel

With many colour and black and white images
(German title: Am Weltenrand sitzen die Menschen und lachen)
ca. 1064 pages
Five volumes with cover flaps in a box
Philipp Weiss
Foto: Philipp Weiss
© Max Zerrahn

Philipp Weiss was born in 1982 in Vienna, where he currently lives and works. He studied German studies and Philosophy and has published theatre plays and short stories. On the edge of the world man sits and laughs is his first novel. In 2018, he has been awarded the Literary Prize of the Jürgen-Ponto-Foundation.

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Chinese simplex rights (East China Normal University Press / Vi Horae), France (Seuil)

1000 pages, five volumes – one novel.

On the discovery and transformation of the world

»Love is the transition into chaos.«

»As if I was at home nowhere. As if I perpetually stood on the threshold, between things, spaces, people. Blessed are those who have never tumbled over an edge of the world […] «


In On the edge of the world man sits and laughs, Philipp Weiss recounts the world’s transformation during the Anthropocene – that epoch of earth’s history in which the human being became the central constitutive power. Between France and Japan, from the 19th to the 21st century, this bold novel depicts a Panopticon of our fleeting reality. Each one of the five volumes has its own form: encyclopaedia, manga, novella, audio-transcription and notebook.

One novel, five books – as independent from one another as they are closely interwoven

How do we come to terms with the unpredictable? And what does the future hold for mankind?

The complexity of existence in the modern world translated into a gripping story and captured in a single novel


»It has to do with everything and everything else and even more. Whoever thinks the ancient epic is dead can think again. Here Philipp Weiss is attempting its Renaissance. Literature’s claim to totality is once again entirely perceptible.« Spiegel Online

»This one thousand-page novel is an impressive debut.« Christian Metz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

» ... an impressive large-scale novel about progress and humanity’s looming self-destruction.« Richard Kämmerlings, Die literarische Welt

»Philipp Weiss has written a furious debut novel that consists of five completely independent books: ... this is a project unlike any other.« die tageszeitung

»It is astonishing how images and signs are whirled around. And the thoughts Philipp Weiss threads through the times are intoxicating.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»The way the author makes us marvel at this strange creation we call ›human‹ […], how he makes us admire this hopelessly narcissistic species and despair over it, the way he creates a highly sensuous, accessible text through all of that […] is what makes this novel on humanity great.« republik.ch

»Euphoria. The young Vienna-based author Philipp Weiss has gone beyond the constraints of any dimension.« der Freitag

»Anthropocene, Big History – terms like these are buzzing through the feuilletons and the publishing houses. Philipp Weiss has adapted these topics for literature in a polyphonic, worthwhile and very original novel. He has captured the mood of the times – for all those who ask the big questions and aren’t satisfied with small answers.« Hessicher Rundfunk

»With his first novel, Weiss, 36, soars from light flyweight to the heavyweights, so to speak. […] On the Edge of the World Man Sits and Laughs is an oppressively bold endeavour. Finally someone has pushed the boundaries of what is generally accepted for debutants. Or isn’t accepted. Which is to break rules and explore boundaries: literary, formal, quantitative, aesthetic ones.« profil

»[…] beautiful and clever and clear.« Kurier

»On the edge of the world man sits and laughs is an experience. This novel, which formally moves forward through the most varied of narrative forms, is not only a singular phenomenon due to its sheer range and the totality of its demands. This richly illustrated narrative project is, especially in the times of the austere electronic book, also an editorial statement. « Der Standard

»This project of a novel from Philipp Weiss is a literary jewel of tremendous intellectual, poetic and formal strength. It is nothing less than the daring and ultimately successful attempt to make the complexity of the world in which we live tellable.« ORF ZIB1

» ... without a doubt this autumn’s most unusual novel; a mammoth-sized project that’s a real treasure-chest sparkling with ideas, knowledge and imagination. This immense project is a polyphonic, poetry and beauty-seeking stocktaking of the present.« ORF.at

»Weiss has not simply written a good story, but a good, playfully experimental novel that encompasses the world and the times. And which also not only manages to show us what but how much you can pack into a novel.« SWR

»This book is a courageous and megalomaniacal survey und self-examination of the world and those human spirits which reflect it – and it is to Suhrkamp Verlag’s great credit that they have published such a unique debut.« Literaturkritik.de


Philipp Weiss reads from On the edge of the world man sits and laughs