Julia Zange

The Girls' Improvement Institution - Novella

Julia Zange

Julia Zange

Julia Zange, born in Darmstadt, lives and studies in Berlin. She won the PROSANOVA competition in Hildesheim in 2005, and shared with two other candidates first prize at the 2006 “open mike” literary competition in Berlin. Die Anstalt der besseren Mädchen is her first novel.

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Loretta's in her mid-twenties and about as grown up as Kate Moss. She knows what kind of clothes suit her, hangs out with arty types of people, does a fair cover version of hip Bohemian life. She's no shrinking violet, but when it comes to the practicalities of life she depends on her boyfriend.

If there's no to-do list waiting from him in the morning, she spends her day wandering aimlessly through Berlin, the city that is her best friend and direct foe. Cocooned in her escapist and infantile world of fashion and seductive power, she falls pregnant, and is soon the mother of an unusually enchanting baby girl. The next phase of despair begins: how can she prevent her miniature likeness from becoming a narcissistic girly-girl and a rival to her own mother? Finally, Loretta takes drastic action. She runs away, and lands in a kind of camp for girls, a pastel-hued candy world with rules all of its own.

Julia Zange's debut novel surprises with its fascinatingly dazzling observations, its uncomfortable closeness to the designer hell through which its heroine wanders. A new writer is waiting to be discovered.


»Loretta is in her mid-twenties, unable to cope with her own sensitivity, exhausted by the knowledge that it’s time to grow up when she has no desire at all to do so. […] This heroine was thought up by Julia Zange, herself only twenty-five, and her debut novel Die Anstalt der besseren Mädchen is a discovery. The deeper one becomes submerged in the hypnotic prose, the more loose becomes the ground beneath one’s feet. A furiously exact book about a difficult consciousness of what it means to be alive.« Vanity Fair

»Small, blonde and problematic – those kind of girls exert a magic attraction on Malte, an upcoming doctor. Loretta fits the description: childish, hyper-critical, and clearly in need of a psychiatrist. When the two label-conscious and hedonistic city-dwellers produce a child, Maria, the problems begin. Die Anstalt der besseren Mädchen is the headstrong debut novel of Julia Zange, 25. The author banishes her novel’s heroine with her small daughter to an uncanny girls’ camp where men are barred and strange rituals take place. Up to the end we remain uncertain whether this utopian world actually exists within the fictional framework of the novel or only inside the psychotic mind of a patient suffering from borderline syndrome. The novel should be recommended to anybody still labouring under the delusion that the book market is monopolised by authors who obligingly cultivate neo-realism. It is the second debut of the season that shows no such anxiety to please.« Spiegel Online