The High-Rise Diver


Big Sister is watching you

Riva is a “high-rise diver,” a top athlete with millions of fans, and a perfectly functioning human on all levels. Suddenly she rebels, breaking her contract and refusing to train. Cameras are everywhere in her world, but she doesn’t know her every move is being watched by Hitomi, the psychologist tasked with reining Riva back in. Unquestionably loyal to the system, Hitomi’s own life is at stake: should she fail to deliver, she will be banned to the “peripheries,” the filthy outskirts of society. For readers of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Circle, and Brave New World, this chilling dystopia constructs a world uncomfortably close to our own, in which performance is everything.

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Listen to author Julia von Lucadou and translator Sharmila Cohen on Trafika Europe radio

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Paperback ISBN






Publication date

20 May 2021




Julia von Lucadou

Julia von Lucadou was born in Heidelberg in 1982. She studied film and theater at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz … Read more

Book Club Questions

  1. What ideals drive Hitomi’s society? How do these ideals help control people? Do some of these ideals exist in our society today?
  2. What role does Andorra play in Hitomi’s relationship to Riva?
  3. What are the various relationships that Hitomi has to other people in her life – Master, Royce Hung, Riva, the bartender, Zarnee? How are these relationships the same, how are they different? What does this say about Hitomi?
  4. Why do you think Hitomi is unable to escape the system, as others do?
  5. What do you think happened to Andorra?
  6. What kind of attitudes surround sexuality in Hitomi’s world? What about parenting? Do they in any way reflect the views that our society holds towards both?
  7. If you were in Hitomi’s place, do you believe you would have acted differently?
  8. Why do you believe Julia von Lucadou has chosen to create a dystopia based on self-optimization?
  9. What aspects of the world in The High-Rise Diver do you find most convincing? What aspects, if any, feel far-fetched? Do you believe this is a perfectly possible future scenario for the human race, or not?
  10. What is the role of a dystopian novel in our society? Should it teach us, warn us, or simply entertain us?

Book Trailer

Author Video

Translator Video


“A searing work of speculative fiction.”
Kirkus Reviews

“With shades of Brave New World and 1984 alongside current concerns about social status and job security being determined by continuous electronic assessment, The High-Rise Diver portrays a chillingly credible world with no place for individuality, with a poignant depiction by von Lucadou of the compassion and humanity that nevertheless refuses to be extinguished.”
Herald Scotland

“As much as The High-Rise Diver presents a cautionary tale of a society in thrall to corporate and surveillance capitalism, it’s also a distressing portrait of a woman, bereft of familial and physical affection, searching for meaning in a cold, antiseptic world.”
Locus Mag

“Piercing prose propels the story forward…in Julia von Lucadou’s cerebral dystopian novel.”
Foreword Reviews

“Deftly crafted by novelist Julia von Lucadou and expertly translated into English for an American readership by Sharmila Cohen, The High-Rise Diver is an inherently riveting read.”
Midwest Book Review

The High-Rise Diver is chillingly beautiful dissection of perfected capitalism. Lucadou creates a horribly convincing world where every aspect of existence has been monetised. In a taut, delicate narrative an implacable and disinterested cruelty faces the human ache for tenderness, mercy, contact and affection.”
A.L. Kennedy

“Straightforward and cool, the author’s short, unadorned sentences reveal how the promise of salvation through greater efficiency, growth, and individual luck actually represses, stifles, and destroys the very essence of life: spontaneity, pain, dirt, emotion, poetry.”
MARTIN HALTER, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“A glistening novel about the blockade of welfare that is closing in on the entire world.”
CLEMENS SETZ, author of Indigo

“What makes Julia von Lucadou’s novel so impressive is the accuracy with which she describes this high-gloss, modern, but by no means completely fictional world. Every detail is so precise that, lurking beneath the flawlessness of the text, the central theme of perfidious self-optimization seems to always be present.”
KATHLEEN HILDEBRAND, Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Julia von Lucadou’s science fiction is close. Against the backdrop of the gleaming images used to portray this Orwellian-style city-state, the tragic moments of direct human encounters take on a dimension of clever criticism.”
STEPHAN LOHR, Spiegel Online

“The author’s precision in depicting the process of decay, later marked by delusional episodes, is the explosive force behind this text. It meticulously states the consequences of a society governed by totalitarian control and optimization. Welcome to neo-liberalism 4.0!”
BJÖRN HAYER, Berliner Zeitung

“In literary and discursive terms, the most exciting debut of the autumn season.”

“With clear analysis and precision, Julia von Lucadou describes the merciless surveillance of the world of big data.”
UTE BÜSING, Inforadio

The High-Rise Diver is a highly intelligent, prescient, and entertaining novel about our brave new world of voluntary surveillance. An outstanding debut!”