When Edgar and Luise Ende separated in 1953, Michael had looked after his mother until she was able to establish a new life for herself. After the move to Italy, he visited her regularly in Munich and she often travelled to Genzano to stay with the couple for weeks at a time. On 25th June 1973 she died of stomach cancer in her apartment in Ainmillerstraβe. She was eight-one years old. The funeral took place in Munich’s Nordfriedhof. Momo was published later that year.
On 11th October, only four months after Luise’s death, the first review of Momo was published in Die Welt. The full-page article, entitled ‘Fairytale of Looted Time’, was the work of Gustav René Hocke, Michael Ende’s friend and neighbour in Genzano. ‘There can be no doubt,’ wrote Hocke, ‘that the fairytale novel Momo exemplifies a new literary genre free from the stolidness of one-dimensional literary ‘engagement’, be it theoretical, political, sociological or philosophical. At the same time, this highly poetical novel manages to combine dramatic suspense, intellectual flights of fancy and socio-political satire in an entirely original way.’ The following year Michael Ende was awarded the 1974 German Prize for Children’s Fiction after Momo won the jury’s support with a majority of one. The novel gained slowly but steadily in popularity and was nominated for the European Youth Fiction Prize. It has since been translated into more than twenty languages.