The Life of a Top-Quality Mattress
Aus dem Leben einer Matratze bester Machart

tim krohn aus dem leben einer matratze bester machart
Galiani Berlin
February 2014 / 120pp

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Immanuel Wassermann meets a young girl on a business trip to Ticino in 1935 and marries her the next day. They head back to Berlin, stopping in Schaffhausen for their honeymoon night. Immanuel buys the mattress they sleep on and they return to Berlin, where he risks arrest by the Gestapo. Towards the end of the war, the mattress ends up back in Schaffhausen, now in the ownership of Nora who, on leaving for work, instructs her children to hide under the mattress in the cellar if the sirens go off. When the house is hit by a bomb, the children survive, but their mother does not. 

The mattress passes from owner to owner, resurfacing in the possession of a couple at a printing press near Zurich, found by a German tourist sheltering from a storm under a bridge in Rome, then floating in the vicinity of an Italian tourist, who has fallen out of his fishing boat while holidaying in Anzio. Time and again the mattress comes to the protagonists’ aid; helping them to survive, to love … and to sleep. 

Much like Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation, Krohn’s book ingeniously uses the device of an object with multiple owners to provide an enthralling historical panorama.

press quotes

‘A gentle book that looks back on the terror of the twentieth century with melancholy and irony.’– WDR 5

about the author

Tim Krohn was born in 1965, and is a freelance writer who lives in Zurich. His novel Quatemberkinder (1998) is a cult book in Switzerland; Vrenelis Gaertli stayed at the top of the Swiss bestseller lists for weeks. In 2013, he performed at the two biggest amateur theatre events at the Ballenberg open-air museum and in Einsiedeln. Tim Krohn’s most recent books are the novel Ans Meer and the novella Der Geist am Berg.

Previous works include:
Quatemberkinder (1998); Vrenelis Gärtli (2010); Ans Meer (2009); Der Geist am Berg (2010)

rights information

Translation rights sold to:
Italy (Casagrande Edizioni)

Translation rights available from:
Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch GmbH
& Co. KG
Bahnhofsvorplatz 1
50667 Köln, Germany
Contact: Iris Brandt /Aleksandra Erakovic
Tel: +49 (0) 221 376 8522
Email: /

Kiepenheuer & Witsch was founded in 1949 and was an independent publishing house until 2002, when it became part of the Holtzbrinck Group. A new imprint, Galiani Berlin, was founded in 2009. KiWi is one of the leading German publishing houses and is known for a broad list of German-language and international authors. KiWi focuses on accessible literature, (bestselling) commercial fiction, including crime, women’s fiction etc. and contemporary non-fiction titles that often have an impact on political/societal debates. Its authors include Maxim Biller, Michael Kumpfmüller, Christian Kracht, Eva Menasse, E.M. Remarque, Uwe Timm as well as Julian Barnes, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nick Hornby, Gabriel García Márquez, Zadie Smith – to name a few.

translation assistance

Pro Helvetia covers up to 100% of the effective translation costs for literary works by Swiss authors.

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