Thank You For This Life

Thank You For This Life

By Sibylle Berg
Translated by Ben Knight

“Thank You For This Life” is an angry, electrifying novel that spans post-war German history, tracks the extraordinary, humble life of Toto, an orphan of ambiguous gender, and offers a pitiless, black-comic view of modern society.

Paperback, 338 Pages


September 2014

£11.99, $19.95

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About This Book

Toto is a miracle, an orphan of ambiguous gender – conceived on a vodka-fuelled night somewhere in a dead town in a cold summer in East Germany. Mother disappeared in a cloud of alcohol, though not before giving in and ticking the box marked “male”. That left Toto out in the world: too fat, too tall, too pure, a gangling giant child who smells of milk. He finds his way to the West, where capitalism is destroying what socialism only allowed to rot. He has two things: one talent, which has a disturbing effect on people, and one love: Kasimir, another orphan, who hates Toto with a hatred that consumes everything.

Thank You For This Life is a very angry, very funny novel that tears apart all three Germanys - East, West, and unified - and offers a pitiless vision of the future of western Europe.


“A masterpiece of brilliantly considered excursions, filled with glittering aphorisms.” —Der Spiegel, issue 31/12

“Sibylle Berg sifts the good from the bad, with capitalism on the brink of judgment day. This is not a novel, it‘s a manifesto.” —Die Welt

“A four hundred page litany of vileness, baseness and squalor – an inventory of soullessness…quite possibly the most offbeat and bizarre book of the summer.” —FAZ

“A peon to individuality…” —Stern

“Sibylle Berg pursues this story all the way to its bitter conclusion. Not so much angry as radical. The result might not be pretty, but good, very good.” —Leipziger Volkszeitung

“Sibylle Berg paints a background of contemporary desolation against which her extraordinary novel is set at counterpoint. The result is a hope-filled elegy, a utopian vision of a virtuous, profoundly compassionate civilisation.” —Sonntagszeitung 

“You can’t escape this narrative. It has you hooked, if only because you can’t help wondering how the author manages to send her hero into one dead end creek after another – each one worse than the last – and what further tirades of vilification she will dream up to describe our present-day world. …Sibylle Berg’s novel is informed by a fire-and-brimstone attitude reminiscent of Abraham a Sancta Clara…couched in the faux-cynical style of Voltaire and his ilk. Berg has transported this perspective into a modern setting, merging it with the background static of our time: medial, fashionable, pseudo-scientific babbling. The result is rather special and unique.” —Tages-Anzeiger

“Sibylle Berg’s protagonist Toto is without doubt one of the most remarkable and moving characters in contemporary literature.” —Deutschlandradio

“Sibylle Berg’s novel is a harsh inventory of the world we live in.” —Aachener Zeitung

“Sibylle Berg unmasks humanity in microcosm – the social fabric within which it continually fails, using beautiful words to describe what is ugly. She distracts us from distracting ourselves…because someone has to do it.” —Tush

Author Information

Sibylle Berg is an award-winning novelist, playwright, stage director, and columnist.

Ben Knight is a journalist and translator currently living in Berlin.


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