This very curious text, written by the Austrian Josef Winkler (b. 1953), won the Alfred Döblin Prize, which itself is an outlier among the German literary prizes. "Natura morta" means still life, but it also means, literally, dead nature. I suspect that Winkler was thinking of both meanings when he chose the title of this novella. But instead of imagining flowers, vases and fruit as in the more commonly known still lifes, you should think of the less frequently encountered hunting still lifes or kitchen still lifes, which represent the relevant utensils and the associated dead animals, but revisited by Francis Bacon (the painter, not the philosopher). An incorporeal eye (for the narrator is not a person, has no thoughts or judgments; it simply sees and sometimes hears) intently watches the people in the outdoor market in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and in and around Saint Peter's cathedral in Rome (as well as in buses and subways linking them), and, one after the other, the people - their attire, their activity, their speech - are briefly described, dismissed and immediately replaced by another. Certain motifs appear: on the one hand, blood and dismembered body parts (primarily, but not solely animal in origin); on the other, teenagers' t-shirts, teenagers' wide-legged shorts revealing teenagers' underpants, teenagers' armpits - you get the drift. A third motif are decaying fruits and vegetables. Mixed in are the street vendors - gypsies, East European refugees, Africans, the occasional Asian - the minutely described cripples, beggars, drug addicts, mad men and priests, and the tourists - from everywhere there is money. Winkler is definitely trying to make the reader uncomfortable. Although I don't terribly mind seeing the animal butchery which is usually antiseptically hidden from sight in my country, I admit to being made uncomfortable at watching a 13-14 year old girl spread her legs in public and play with the rubberized edge in the crotch of her panties, pulling it open and letting it snap shut, and again, and again... Just one example. A few of the people are returned to, and at each return Winkler uses the same characteristic phrase to re-introduce them. For example, the (for lack of a better designation) central character, the simple minded, 16 year old son of a fig vendor, is described each time as having long, black eyelashes nearly reaching his cheeks and a silver crucifix at his neck. Little variations on these characteristic phrases are played as the text proceeds. This seems to be what one of the other reviewers is referring to when she suggests that this repetition and variation is a "recherche de mot". I doubt it. However, I certainly agree that these give a very particular rhythm to the text. This text is surely written with musical considerations in mind, and not simply the local, small scale sounds and structures; it reminds me of a large-scale symphonic movement by Bruckner or Mahler (both compatriots of Winkler). In the midst of all of this human life and animal death the fig vendor's son is hit and killed by a firetruck hastening to a fire. Not unexpectedly, the bodily consequences of this collision are minutely described; somewhat unexpectedly, Winkler takes this opportunity to release a veritable tsunami of animal butchery. (You won't believe it unless you read it, I assure you.) The movement has reached its climax, and body parts are flying everywhere! Up until the "tsunami", this text is life as it appears when one walks through a teeming market or into Saint Peter's plaza on a busy day, and one really sees . I appreciate the seeing. But it is a good thing I know there is so much more than is seen in this text.