The borough of Mitte has changed almost beyond recognition since the early 1990s, when the novel is set. Street names have changed, galleries and cafés opened up anywhere and everywhere, and the renovation process just beginning in the book is now almost finished. The scaffolding is still there, but now new buildings are going up in the gaps and former green spaces. Most of the people who had to move out for renovations never came back, and the area is now populated by tourists and the wealthy middle class.
It’s a success story of sorts – but one with many critics. Like any gentification process, this one has begun to devour its own children. The artists and creative types who once made the area attractive – like Mirca in the novel – can no longer afford the rents. The once ubiquitous cafés have made way for high-end fashion stores. And as big business moves in, Mitte is emptying out.