What we live on

“Birgit Birnbacher has a fine feeling for people on the margins, for those who have been thrown off track.” - Christoph Schröder, Süddeutsche Zeitung

“She writes with precision and without false pathos.” - Wiebke Porombka, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"A tenderly lyrical novel. Unputdownable."- Ariane Heimbach, Brigitte Woman

" An outstanding example of contemporary literature that not only relies on its subject, but is linguistically convincing. [...] This novel should be read with a pen in the hand; there is so much to highlight.” -  Carsten Otte, Die Zeit

A single error catapults Julia from her nursing job back to her former life in the village where she grew up.

There, everything seems even worse than she remembers. The factory where half the community used to work has closed. Her father’s health is alarmingly fragile, and after years of sacrifice, her mother has left him and her sick brother to make a fresh start. When Julia meets Oskar, who’s recovering from a heart attack, she’s envious at first. Oskar’s income will tide him over for a year and he’s making plans. But what does Julia see for her future?

How can we continue to work in a way that’s fulfilling? How can we distribute care work fairly? And how do we want to live in a world in which work no longer needs us? Birgit Birnbacher, a master of “unsentimental empathy” (Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau), uses captivating, lyrical language to ask how and from what we want to live. The Bachmann prizewinner is an adept literary narrator who uses everyday language directly, honestly and sensitively.

What We Live On is a novel about work and family, daughters and mothers – and the rift between boundless individualism and romantic love.