Book Club Meeting Monika Helfer: The Riff-Raff

Monika Helfer: Die Bagage © Hanser Literaturverlag

Tue, 30.03.2021


Interested in German books? Join us online for a discussion about the novel 'The Riff-Raff' by Monika Helfer. New members welcome!


This novel is a powerful and poignant portrait of a woman and mother at the beginning of the twentieth century. Monika Helfer tells the story of her own origins, of a family that is only ever referred to by everyone as the “riff-raff”.

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.

Extract in German: 'Die Bagage'


Monika Helfer, born in 1947 in Au / Bregenzerwald, lives with her family in Vorarlberg. She has published numerous novels, stories and children’s books. Her novel Look at Me When I Talk to You (2017) was nominated for the German Book Prize. Her most recent publication was Riffraff (2020). 


Everyone who wants to read and discover German books and share their reading experience with others is welcome. The conversation will be in German. All participants should have sufficient language skills to read and discuss in German.

Participation is free of charge.


To receive the link for participation in our digital book club meeting, please send an email to


We will use Zoom for our meeting. We recommend the use of a headset, as speakers can create disturbing echo effects. Participation is possible from PC and Mac. To participate, simply follow the link we will send you when you register.