Reading and dialogue “Die Welt im Rücken (The World At Your Back)”


English-Japanese simultaneous interpretation (German-Japanese consecutive interpretation)

24 Sat. 14:45 - 15:45
Istituto Italiano di Cultura Auditorium Umberto Agnelli

To celebrate the publication in Japanese of his novel Die Welt im Rücken (The World At Your Back), Thomas Melle, one of the most important writers of contemporary German literature, will discuss the work with the translator Jisung Kim and novelist/musician Ko Machida.

Thomas MELLE

Thomas Melle, born in 1975, studied Comparative Literature and Philosophy in Tübingen, Austin (Texas), and Berlin. He is the author of frequently performed plays and has translated works by authors such as William T. Vollmann and Tom McCarthy into German. His debut novel “Sickster” (2011) was nominated for the German Book Prize and was recognized with the Franz Hessel Prize. The novel “3000 Euros” followed in 2014. It was shortlisted for the German Book Prize and earned Melle the Berlin Art Prize (“Berliner Kunstpreis”) in 2015. “Die Welt im Rücken (The World at Your Back)” was published in 2016. It also made the short list for the German Book Prize and was recognized with the Klopstock Prize. Melle is the 2017/18 recipient of the “Stadtschreiber von Bergen” (Bergen writer in residence) award. He lives in Berlin and Vienna.


Ko Machida, born in 1962, is a Japanese author, poet, actor and former punk rock singer. In 1996 he published his debut novel “Kussun Daikoku” which received the Bunkamura Deux Magots Literary Award. The novel also got translated into German. His unique style of storytelling which includes elements of nonsense, absurdity, slapstick comedy is influenced by Rakugo from the Kansai region and historical plays. In 2000 he won the 123th Akutagawa Price for his novel „Kiregire“ and the Tanizaki-Jun’ichiro Price for his novel “Kokuhaku” in 2005.

Jisung KIM

Jisung Kim, born in 1987, studied at Waseda University in Tokyo. He obtained his doctorate for German studies in 2018. During his time as a doctoral student he was a research fellow at the „Japan Society for the Promotion of Science“ and studied as a DAAD scholarship holder at the liberal University in Berlin. Since 2018 Jisung Kim is teaching German studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.

The World At Your Back Die Welt im Rücken


The book “Die Welt im Rücken” (English: The World At Your Back) talks about the vulnerable human condition in our day and age.

This book hurts, disturbs and is incredibly funny at times. Thomas Melle reports on the illness of his mental disorder. With will-o’-the-wispy precision, he describes his self, gone mad amidst neuronal fireworks. He congenially translates the insane heightened awareness of his paranoid psychosis into magnificent literature. In chronicling his manic-depressive episodes, which drive him through clubs, concert halls and clinics, Melle also – almost incidentally – paints an atmospheric picture of the pop-culture present.  (Credits: New Books in German)

The book was shortlisted for the 2016 German Book Prize, delighting the press and readers alike. It also was selected for the Merck-Social-Translating project testing a new social practice for literary translation. Ten translators from Asia translating the novel into their respective native languages interacting with one another and engaging in a close discourse with the author.


Istituto Italiano di Cultura

2 Chome-1-30 Kudanminami, Chiyoda, Tokyo 102-0074, Japan