Emma Braslavsky

The Night Was Pale, the Lights Were Twinkling - Novel

Emma Braslavsky
Foto: Emma Braslavsky
© Stefan Klüter

Emma Braslavsky, born in Erfurt in 1971, has been working as a free-lance author and curator since 1999. In 2007, her debut novel Aus dem Sinn was awarded the Uwe-Johnson-Advancement Award as well as the Franz-Tumler-Literary Prize and was nominated for the Buddenbrookhaus Debut Prize. Her second novel, Das Blaue vom Himmel über dem Atlantik, was published in 2008. Life Is No Way to Treat An Animal is her first publication with Suhrkamp Verlag. Emma Braslavsky lives in Berlin.

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Domestic Rights Sales: German Radio Play (BR)

An urban fairy tale with a morbid sense of humour

Love 3.0 – all you could ever want in a relationship will come true

Is it ultimately going to be machines that teach us what it means to be human?


Berlin, in a near future. The city thrives thanks to the Hubot industry: Robotics companies create artificial partners indistinguishable from real humans; every kind of wish for a relationship can be fulfilled, unconditional private bliss and the complete abolition of loneliness are just about to become reality. But the number of suicides has increased tenfold.

Because the new beings have mastered the art of simulating love, but they can’t take any responsibility for those they live with. More and more people perish of social alienation. That’s why Roberta comes on the market: She is designed to find the relatives of the people who have committed suicide to save the social welfare department the funeral costs. If she fails, she will be taken apart and her components sold to manufacturers of domestic robots. And not everyone is invested in the success of her investigations.

Emma Braslavsky takes a look into the night life of a city and takes us on the dark side of an energetic metropolis. Her novel is an urban fairy tale and crime story in one and talks about the radicalization of the individual, about the fine line between natural and artificial life and about the omnipotence of algorithms in a witty and fast-paced manner.


»Everything gets better, and this is especially true for intelligent machines. Emma Braslavsky explores the consequences of this in an intelligent novel.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»The Night Was Pale, the Lights Were Twinkling is an impressive novel: contemporary without pandering to its readers, entertaining without simplifying. Very funny at times, but with a depth that also achieves tragedy.« Julia Dettke, ZEIT ONLINE

»This novel is daring. […] Braslavsky achieves a balance between terms from science fiction, technology and colloquial language, expertly funny at times and over the top at others.« Cornelia Geißler, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Braslavsky skilfully surveys the touchstones of what it means to be human through Roberta‘s analytical circuit view of sociological and neo-feminist observations.« Sarah-Maria Deckert, Der Tagesspiegel

»Emma Braslavsky’s skill lies in expressing her pressimism regarding the future of humanity with literary means alone. This turns the parable into a humoristic novel you enjoy reading.« Harald Klauhs, Die Presse

»In a literarily compelling way Emma Braslavsky’s novel raises the issue of how much the boundary between human thinking and artificial intelligence begins to dissolve particularly in an era of radical individualism.« Christoph Schröder, SWR2

»Apart from its entertainment value, Emma Braslavsky’s book provides a lot of food for thought.« Irene Binal, ORF

»The Night Was Pale, the Lights Were Twinkling is a very special Berlin-centered novel. […] The novel makes one afraid, of what could become reality – or what may already be a reality – and is full of intelligent observations.« Maria Nowotnick, Buchkultur

»capitvating and memorable« Wilhelmshavener Zeitung

»laconic, ironic, without any stylistic frills but full of original neologisms« Rolf Löchel, literaturkritik.de