Vati / Daddy

Monika Helfer

Carl Hanser Verlag, January 2021

This book was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2021. As the media partner for the Prize, we publish information on all six shortlisted books.

Daddy is a memoir that pens a portrait of a post-war generation. It is a novel about growing up in difficult circumstances and the author’s search for her roots.  

He had a prosthetic leg, was often absent, was a widower, a pensioner and loved literature. Monika Helfer’s book orbits her father’s life and tells the story of her childhood and adolescence – the spaciousness and library in the mountain recovery home for war victims and the poverty and the cramped conditions in a South Tyrolean settlement with many children in one kitchen. She writes what she knows about her father, a man who, like many of his generation, didn’t say much. With great veracity, the result is a novel that gently unfolds existential matters and traces painful memories. ‘Yes, everything turned out fine. In a terrible way, it all turned out fine.’ 

Monika Helfer born in 1947 in Au / Bregenzerwald, lives with her family in Vorarlberg. She has published numerous novels, stories and children’s books. Her novel Look at Me When I Talk to You (2017) was nominated for the German Book Prize. Her most recent publication was Riffraff (2020). 

An English-language sample translation by Lucy Jones is available to read here