The World at Your Back

Reading by Thomas Melle at the Goethe-Institut Korea

Thomas Melle in discussion with Ki-Sook Lee Photos: Dagmar Morath | Goethe-Institut Korea/OZAK
“When you’re bipolar, your life no longer has continuity. The illness has closed off your past and threatens to do the same to your future to an even greater extent. With every manic episode, your life as you knew it becomes all the more impossible. The person who you believed you were and knew has no solid foundation anymore. You can no longer be sure of yourself. And you no longer know who you were. What otherwise might quickly come and go as an idea is put into action in a manic short circuit. Every person has an abyss inside of them which they occasionally get a glimpse of; yet mania is an entire tour of this abyss, and what you knew about yourself for years suddenly becomes invalid within a very short time. You don’t start at zero, no, you slip into the negative, and nothing is reliably associated with you anymore.”

Thomas Melle has suffered from manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, for many years. He tells in blunt, brilliant language about how he has dealt with the illness, about personal dramas, and slow recovery ― thus providing unusual insight into what a person with the illness is experiencing. In 2016, his novel “The World at Your Back” was shortlisted for the German Book Award and was recognized with the Klopstock Award in 2017. The Burgtheater in Vienna put on a stage production of “The World at Your Back” in 2018. 

Thomas Melle is a novelist, the author of frequently performed plays, and has translated works by authors such as William T. Vollmann and Tom McCarthy into German.

On June 22, 2018, the Korean translation of “The World at Your Back” will be presented at the Goethe-Institut. The author will be talking with the translator Ki-Sook Lee. The event will be moderated by Prof. Dr. Yun-Yeong Choi of Seoul National University and will include readings of passages from the German and Korean editions. 

The book presentation is part of the Merck Social Translating Project, which was developed by the Goethe-Institut Korea in partnership with Merck Korea.