The Weight of Things
A Novel
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144 pages / / 9781786632968

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A lost tale of domestic nightmares

This rediscovered modernist classic tells the story of a young woman who, while still traumatized by the Second World War, struggles to resign herself to domesticity and motherhood. Slowly consumed by a weight of circumstances beyond her control, Berta endures the deep hypocrisies and the abiding cruelty of everyday life, behind which bloody tragedy threatens to break free.

The Weight of Things was Fritz’s debut novel and the first of her books to be translated into English. It won her tremendous acclaim and was awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978. Fritz subsequently embarked on a brilliant and ambitious literary project called The Fortress, which earned her cult status, comparisons to James Joyce, and admirers including Elfriede Jelinek and W. G. Sebald.

In her lyrical debut, she reveals herself as a brilliant and masterful satirist, whose work is philosophically minded yet raging with anger and wit.


“Written in a brisk tone that disguises its destination, this slow-burning horror story steps quietly and methodically into a heart of familial darkness … The war haunts this novel, adding to the weight of everyday things and everyday evils that Fritz so ingeniously dissects.”

The Weight of Things is a tightly wrought masterwork of narrative, a little gem that shows off everything that it can (and should) do, without looking as if it were particularly trying.”

“Fritz won the Kafka Prize in 2001 and her work, like his, is both deeply upsetting and profound. Her translator writes in his ‘Afterword’ that ‘there is a class of artists whose work is so strange and extraordinary that it eschews all gradations of the good and the mediocre: genius and madness are the only descriptors adequate to its scale,’ and he situates Fritz quite forcefully in this class. He seems to be correct.”

“Fritz’s poetic auscultation of this weight, this madness, is absolutely astounding, both in its scope and its subtlety. It is difficult to summarize her methods, as they are woven so seamlessly into the narrative … She describes a palpable environment of disorientation and loss, set against a tapestry of gray skies, war-ruined structures, and dark woods into which people disappear.”

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