Michael Kumpfmüller

The Glory of Life

Die Herrlichkeit des Lebens

The Glory of Life

Complete English translation by Anthea Bell available
Shortlisted for the Wilhelm Raabe Prize 2011
Recommended for translation by New Books in German
Chinese translation awarded the "Weishanhu Prize for best translated work of the 21st century"
French translation awarded the Prix Jean Monnet de littérature européenne 2013

In the summer of 1923, Franz Kafka, suffering from tuberculosis and known only to insiders as a poet, meets the twenty-five year old cook Dora Diamant in a Baltic sea spa. They fall in love and within just a few weeks he does what he could never have imagined – he decides to live together with Dora; to share his life with her in Berlin. Against all odds – during the times of hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic, despite the daily climbing prices, the ever-changing rooms to sublease, and despite his wary parents, they make a living together. Up to his death in June 1924, Franz Kafka and Dora Diamant were inseparable.

The myth surrounding Franz Kafka, whose posthumous reputation as a writer seems to be a high price to pay for his largely unhappy life, is larger than life. Michael Kumpfmüller sheds a bright, almost cheerful light on the poet. He imagines a sensitive, gentle and informative romantic novel out of this true period of life. He knows Kafka’s diary, his letters and his last texts inside out and delicately weaves them into his narrative. Likewise, he devotes himself to Dora’s view; that of a young woman in love with an enigmatic and agonizing man. He draws a tender and discrete picture of a person, who in his last years of life found his great love, and takes hold of his life before it is too late. A moving parable about life and love, writing and death.

“Dora is with me, she is really good for me.” Franz Kafka: Letter to his parents, 9th April 1924

sample translation

About the Author

Michael Kumpfmüller was born in Munich in 1961, and lives and works as a freelance writer in Berlin. His much-praised novel, The Adventures of a Bed Salesman, appeared in 2000 and was his first great literary success. His second novel Durst [Thirst] was published in 2003, and his novel Nachricht an alle [Message To All] was awarded the Döblin Prize before its publication in 2008. His novel The Glory of Life became a bestseller on publication in 2011, and received much praise from the literary critics. It has now been translated into 23 languages.