Infused with the spirit of 1920s Berlin, Mr. Brecher’s Fiasco is one of the great modern novels about the urban heart of Germany. It was a time of hope and hyperinflation, sexual liberation and repression, industrialization and unemployment, and constant political instability—with the shadow of fascism looming ever larger. Available here for the first time in English, Kessel's novel draws upon the major intellectual and social issues of Weimar Germany and is a satire of the Berlin workplace and the white-collar workers of the city’s mushrooming bureaucracy. His story captures a moment in which office workers—originally a small, respected, and privileged sector of the workforce—transformed into a large and amorphous common class of workers.
In the offices of a large media conglomerate responsible for all kinds of advertising, Max Brecher considers himself the intellectual among the clerks. He reflects on the personal relations in the office, his own situation as an employee and human being, and the shifts in the values and ideas of life in 1920s Berlin. His office has its share of interesting characters, such as the corrupt Dr. Geist, who becomes a hypocrite in order to advance in the office hierarchy; the lovely Mucki Schopps, a tricky young girl with whom everyone falls in love; Gudula Often, who strives for harmony among her coworkers but never achieves her goal; and the department head, Mr. Sack, who meets an unfortunate end.