The Chambermaid
Das Zimmermädchen

markus orths das zimmermaedchen
Schöffling & Co.
June 2008 / 144pp

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‘She opens the door and takes the final step.’ With this arresting sentence we enter the world of Lynn Zapatek, who is on her way out of a psychiatric clinic, and from then on we follow her bizarre behavioural life, seeing everything through her eyes. We watch as, employed as a chambermaid at the Hotel Eden, she throws herself into her work, until her enthusiasm for cleaning becomes an obsession. At first, in the guests’ rooms, she merely inspects their belongings and speculates about their lives, but when, on one occasion, the occupant returns unexpectedly, she hides under the bed, listening to what goes on. This continues – a new part of her routine – until a particularly violent sex scene occurs and Chiara, the female participant, leaves a card and a telephone number which Lynn follows up. Visiting Chiara to receive her sexual and other attentions is just one further addition to her psychotic weekly schedule.

Why does Lynn clean obsessively? What has happened to alienate her from her mother? Why is she so damaged? Her repetitious, automatised behaviour could be seen as a symptom of the modern age, but that is only part of the answer. An outstanding author’s latest triumph.

press quotes

‘Markus Orths sets out his brilliant ideas with down-to-earth originality. (…) He is a master of those irrevocable elements of life, of the existential and the lapidary.’– Die Zeit

about the author

Markus Orths, born in 1969, studied philosophy, French and English literature and now lives as an author in Karlsruhe. For his novels and short stories (including bestselling titles Lehrerzimmer – published in the UK by Dedalus – and Catalina – published in the USA by Toby Press) he has received, among other awards, the Sir Walter Scott Prize, the Marburg Literature Prize and the Berlin ‘open mike’ contest. His latest, reviewed here, won an award at the 2008 Days of Literature in Klagenfurt, Austria.

Previous works include:
Corpus; Wer geht wo hinterm Sarg?; Catalina; Fluchtversuche – all Schöffling.

rights information

Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH
Kaiserstraße 79
60329 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Tel: +49 69 92 07 87 16
Contact: Kathrin Scheel 

Schöffling & Co. has a simple credo: the focus is on the authors. It has gained the reputation of being a ‘publishing house that plays a significant role in the shaping of Germany’s literary future’ (SPIEGEL online). Founded in November 1993, Schöffling & Co. has since emerged as one of Germany’s most innovative independent literary publishing houses with a tightly-woven international network. An atmosphere of mutual confidence and esteem and an unceasing commitment to its authors and their works provide the basis for a fruitful literary relationship. New German voices are recognised and published alongside established and famous names, while authors in translation include Sadie Jones, Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Egan, and Miljenko Jergovic.

translation assistance

Applications should be made to the Goethe-Institut.

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