Kully knows some things you don't learn at school. She knows how to roll a cigarette and pack a suitcase. She knows that cars are more dangerous than lions. She knows you can't enter a country without a passport or visa. And she knows that she and her parents can't go back to Germany again - her father's books are banned there. But there are also things she doesn't understand, like why there might be a war Europe - just that there are men named Hitler, Mussolini and Chamberlain involved. Little Kully is far more interested where their next meal will come from and the ladies who seem to buzz around her father. Meanwhile she and her parents roam through Europe. Her mother would just like to settle down, but as her restless father struggles to find a new publisher, the three must escape from country to country as their visas expire, money runs out and hotel bills mount up.
Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905, although she maintained throughout her life that it was in 1910. After trying her luck as an actress, she began to write in 1929 and found instant success with her early novels, which were blacklisted by the Nazis for their 'immoral' depictions of the Modern Young Woman. From 1936 to 1938 she travelled through Europe with the writer Joseph Roth and published several novels, including Child of All Nations in 1938. Roth died in 1939 and Keun spent the war in Germany, living semi-legally under an assumed name. Following the war, she made a living writing humorous sketches for radio and magazines, published one more novel and had a daughter, whom she brought up alone. At the end of her life, her books gained a new following from a younger generation of feminists. Irmgard Keun died in 1982 aged 77 -- or, as she would have claimed, 72.