Hamsters in the Backwater

  • SPIEGEL Bestseller – highest position #1
  • #5 on Austria's ORF List of Best Books (October 2020)
  • 2.3 million copies sold of his previous books
  • English sample translation by Jen Calleja available 

What happens when a health crisis rips you abruptly right out of the thick of life? Can telling stories help? Can humour heal? The now 50-year-old actor and storyteller Joachim Meyerhoff finds himself caught up in an unexpected drama: He is admitted to an intensive care unit in an emergency. He, who had always relied on physical exertions to feel alive, the “blond bomb”, as he was called in childhood, for whom self-detonation was a life elixir, suddenly finds himself hooked up to machines in a hospital bed on the outskirts of Vienna. An existential situation that is difficult to bear.

He describes the attack, the ride on the ambulance that seems to last forever, the diagnosis process and the extremely slow treatment and recovery phase in his usual entertaining, self-ironic yet thoughtful way. Life is put on hold and everything is off balance. Lying in hospital, he reflects on life in general, his own course of life and the people he loves. And he starts thinking about the future in a more concious way.

Yet, as existential as the situation may be, it is also replete with absurd incidents and encounters. The narrator’s hospital stay turns into a time full of stories and the people closest to him. He also meets several fellow patients who take some getting used to, an impressive neurologist, and even wild hamsters. When he is released from the hospital, nothing is the same as it was before. 

"Meyerhoff once again succeeds in identifying comedy in tragedy and thus reconciling himself and the reader with the world." – Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Rights to Joachim Meyerhoff's novels have been sold to Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

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Netherlands: Signatuur

  • Publisher: Kiepenheuer&Witsch
  • Release: 10.09.2020
  • 320 pages
  • ISBN: 978-3-462-00024-5
Book Cover
Hamster im hinteren Stromgebiet
Ingo Pertramer

Joachim Meyerhoff

Joachim Meyerhoff, born in 1967, has been an ensemble member of the Burgtheater in Vienna since 2005. In 2019, he left Vienna to become a steady member of the Berlin Schaubühne. He has written several bestselling books and received many awards. His most successful book Wann wird es endlich wieder so, wie es nie war (2013) was awarded the Nicolas Born Debut Prize and the Carl Zuckmayer Medal. The Italian translation won the Premio Bottari Lattes Grinzane in the section "Il Germoglio”. Ach diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke (2015) was longlisted for the German Book Prize.