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No Room Left

Margit Schreiner's new bitter-sharp novel about the imponderabilities of down-sizing.

»The things you collect over the course of a life!« Notes, diaries, letters, newspaper articles, photos, all sorts of bits and bobs. Where do you put it all? With a wonderful gift for exaggeration and a sharp eye, Margit Schreiner depicts the overabundance that confronts us day by day. Nobody is spared: Bruno has to rent a whole library room to store all his documents. Hans and Maria don’t buy anything new, nor do they throw anything out. Rudi and Franca live in a spacious yet jam-packed castle on the Lago Maggiore. Clearing out – and tidying up – are the only remedy, although even this encourages the acquisition of new possessions, both useful and useless.

An entertaining and thought-provoking novel about the lack of space in our world. Schreiner traces a broad arc, from writers who live like hoarders to problems with rubbish disposal in Italy. Using Japan as an example, she explores the absurd consequences of a lack of space for the whole structure of society. And if you think you can flee to the Himalayas or the Canadian wilderness, you’re very much mistaken – no matter which way you look at it, there’s simply no room left.


'The world is too full, too ailing. Human beings are inherently unsuited to the world. The novel reads so hilariously elegantly, so light-footedly and flexibly, but then you stumble across a sentence that gives you pause, that trips you up, makes you think it can’t be right. That’s Schreiner’s tone, her melody, her cosmos. First the extravagant lightness – and then the slap. You feel it against your cheekbone, and it burns.'

'This novel is an attempt to get even with a world reducing us to functioning efficiently cleverly demonstrating that a society working on the abolition of empathy is working on self-sabotage.'

Margit Schreiner

born in Linz, Austria, in 1953 is living there again after many years in Tokyo, Paris, Rome and Berlin. She has won various scholarships and awards for her writing, most recently the Heinrich Gleißner Prize for her life's work.