The Wall

By Marlen Haushofer,

Book cover of The Wall

Book description

“I can allow myself to write the truth; all the people for whom I have lied throughout my life are dead…” writes the heroine of Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall, a quite ordinary, unnamed middle-aged woman who awakens to find she is the last living human being. Surmising her solitude is…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Wall as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel, first published in 1963, looks at how we create meaning in our lives through the investment and care we give to that life. A woman vacationing in the Austrian mountains is suddenly cut off from the rest of humanity by a mysterious cataclysmic event, of which she may be the sole human survivor.

As a firsthand account, it examines her fear, loneliness, and ultimate commitment to creating a meaningful life in her new reality. It can be seen as a critique of modern life and how it has cut us off from the rhythms of nature. It is…

This story has stayed with me for years. A woman takes a holiday in the Austrian mountains and wakes up to an inexplicable new reality—she’s totally alone in the world, so it seems, and has to learn to fend for herself. We journey into the unknown with her as she reports on the mental and physical challenges of her new daily life… and it stirs up so many interesting questions about who we are without connection and community, and where meaning can be found in the most stripped-back life.

From Lisa's list on journeying into the unknown.

Ok, so the protagonist of this book isn’t really a “girl” – she’s a grown woman – but I still think this is a great book for anyone in their mid-teens and up. I’m fairly sure it was another second-hand bookshop find, because how else would I have come across a 1963 post-apocalyptic novel by an Austrian author that didn’t have an English translation until 1990? An unnamed woman finds herself stuck behind an invisible wall in the Austrian mountains after a possible nuclear event; a dog, a cow, and a cat are the only other apparent survivors. It’s eerie…

From Trilby's list on smart girls figuring out hard stuff.

Read during a jag of dystopian fiction, this one stuck with me. First published in Austria in 1963, it only got translated into English in 1990, which suits the story’s timelessness. For some reason, the world ends and traps a woman behind a glass wall. Not important why the world as she knows it is gone. It just is, and she has to keep living, and part of that means writing about it. Success will not know recognition, her words will not be read. Stripped of all need to answer to any other human or societal expectation, the story stretches…

From Tania's list on about not quitting.

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