The Austrian Book Award 2022 goes to Verena Rossbacher and her novel MON CHÉRIE OR OUR BATTERED SOULS (Kiepenheuer & Witsch) – a heartwarming novel about an unusual self-discovery: quirky, clever, linguistically brilliant and wildly funny!!!

With the words of the jury:

»Charly Benz: in her early forties, long-term single, eats convenience food, chain smokes, listens to Bibi Blocksberg radio plays in her free time and doesn’t open her mail for fear of bad news. „Yes, that was the problem, I always had to do everything by myself, cook food and make music, be afraid of my mail, just everything. I sighed. As it was, I would also have to father my children on my own, if I ever wanted to have any. I had to admit to myself: Time was working against me.“ So that’s the novel’s heroine! A desolately funny female character and thus a rarity in literary history. Because funny women have a hard time with the readership. With her Charly Benz, Verena Roßbacher has not only succeeded in creating a character that will never be forgotten. She also allows her to develop an almost unbelievable personality. The quirky outsider with a penchant for advertising clips from the nineties (Mon Chéri!) becomes a pioneer of alternative models of life and love in the course of this fast-paced novel. Not only are there suddenly three potential fathers for a baby. A seriously ill man is also accompanied to his death without fear. „Mon Chéri and Our Demolished Souls“ tells a story of letting go. In between, there is slapstick at its best. Funny women, we learn with Verena Roßbacher, are simply irresistible!«

about the novel:

Charly Benz has been stumbling through her life for 43 years without a plan and with plenty of baggage. She works in marketing for a Berlin vegan food company, subsists on burned croissants, and discusses her relationship problems – which consist of not having a relationship – with her only friend, Mr. Schabowski, a 60-year-old man who sorts through her mail and anxieties.

But then Mr. Schabowski receives a fatal diagnosis and, after a systemic family constellation ends in an embarrassing debacle, all of a sudden no less than three men are mucking up Charly’s life. She and Schabowski decide to tackle their problems proactively: they flee – specifically, to Bad Gastein, a once fashionable spa town where in a vacant turn-of-the-century hotel that once belonged to Charly’s father, they discover that, while you can’t choose who you’re related to, you can choose your family.

Verena Roßbacher, born in 1979, grew up in Austria and Switzerland. She studied philosophy, German language and literature and theology in Zurich and at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig. Ich war Diener im Hause Hobbs is her third novel published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch, after her debut Verlangen nach Drachen (“Desire for Dragons”), published in 2009 and Vom Schwätzen und Schlachten (“Small Talk and Skirmishes”), published in 2014.