Thomas Melle, a successful young novelist and playwright, suddenly sells off his library without knowing why he’s doing it. His personal life disintegrates as his behaviour becomes more irrational. Drunken frenzies, wild imaginings, fantasies about sex with stars, broken relationships, professional scandals, scuffles with the police, and enforced stays on psych wards. take over Melle’s life. Possibly the most, precise, intense account ever written of how it feels to suffer from bipolar disorder, The World at My Back is a triumph of truth-telling and a masterpiece of elegant literary expression. Balancing exquisite writing with fearless confrontations with brutally self-destructive actions, this book is a wrenching confession and a moving description of the search for emotional balance.
Praise for The World at My Back
“Books written out of great emotional distress are often embarrassing. They are rarely great literature. Thomas Melle’s book is great literature because he pulls it off without a single false note.”
—Deutschlandfunk (German National Radio)
“Haunting insights into a bipolar identity as seen from the inside … Precisely because it is not a question of fiction—even if there is much talk of literature, even of a ‘failed novel of education’—but of a poetic of the authentic, The World at My Back is an impressive document.”
—Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung
“The author of the book is Thomas Melle, his book is called The World at My Back, and it tells of a much greater conflict and a much greater shame than you, as a reader, will probably ever feel … Manic-depressive disorder is the tragedy of Thomas Melle’s life. That we can read about it in this book in this way is a wrenching literary event.”
“The World at My Back is a book that shakes and disturbs, one that wakes the reader with a punch in the skull, as Franz Kafka wrote … Melle’s text is unique because the author manages to draw you into the action and, as far as possible, give you a realistic impression of the illness … In spite of the desperation and darkness of the subject, you can hardly help but smile at the absurdities—even as they immediately stick in your throat. Added to this is Melle’s lively storytelling style, which alone lifts the book well above the wide selection of memoirs of illness.”