Josef and Maria Moosbrugger live with their children on the outer edges of a mountain village, far away from the other inhabitants. They are outsiders, marginalised, poverty-stricken – the riff-raff. It is the time of the First World War, when Josef is drafted into the army. It is the time when Maria and her children are left behind and become dependent on the protection of the mayor. It is the time when Georg from Hanover comes to the area, a man who is not only beautiful and speaks High German, but who one day also knocks on Maria’s door. And it is the time when Maria gets pregnant with Grete, the baby of the family, with whom Josef will never speak a word: the mother of Monika Helfer.
“Although Monika Helfer’s text is as stark as the Moosbruggers’ soil is barren: there isn’t one superfluous word and no overblown description. And yet, even her most inconspicuous characters are alive and vivid. Helfer achieves this in the space of very few pages.” - Ulrich Rüdenauer, Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Monika Helfer’s story of an outsider’s fate told in well-arranged episodes with flashbacks and -forwards is masterful. Although Austrian literature from Thomas Bernhard to Peter Handke is full of village dramas, this book manages to find a unique tone.” - Katharina Teutsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Monika Helfer was born in 1947 in Au / Bregenzerwald, and lives as a writer with her family in the Vorarlberg region of Austria. She has published numerous novels, short stories and children’s books. Her works have received numerous distinctions, including the Robert Musil Stipend, the Austrian Prize for Literature and the Solothurner Literature Prize. She received the 2021 Schubart Literature Prize of the city of Aalen for her novel Die Bagage (2020). Her most recent publication with Hanser is the novel Vati (2021). The Riff-Raff The book has been selected for "Books at Berlinale" 2022