Professor Karl Michaeli is a former star cellist and grantler , as he is in the book. After the death of his beloved wife Maria in 2014, the retired music professor lives alone in a three-room apartment in Vienna. To his displeasure, several foreign families are housed in his apartment building. The widowed, free-spirited apartment building owner Esther Polgar also houses refugees in his home. These are a special thorn in Karl's side.