-> ''Lots of things take time, and time was Momo's only form of wealth.''
''Momo'' is a German fantasy novel written by Creator/MichaelEnde in 1973. An English translation has been published in 1974 as ''The Grey Gentlemen'', and again in 1984 as ''Momo''.
''Momo'' takes place in an unnamed Italian town which is home to the eponymous homeless girl, who is known to be wise and has an almost supernatural ability to listen and help people come to terms with their problems. At the beginning of the book she leads a happy life, living in an old amphitheater on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by a community of friends who bring her food and share their problems with her. One day strange men with pale skin, grey suits, and grey hats appear in town and offer people to take their spare time into an account and pay it back with interest at a later time. More and more people agree to the offer and give away more and more of their spare time, and gradually give up any activities that are not considered completely necessary and eventually lose all their emotions. When the grey men approach Momo, one inadvertently reveals that that they are trying to drain the people's time away for their own uses. And unlike everyone else in the city, Momo can remember them after they have left.
One day a tortoise named Cassiopeia appears and leads her to the house of Master Hora, who guards the stores of time against the grey men, but needs Momo to help him. Meanwhile, the gray men are bringing all their powers against her, since they know that she is the only one who can stop them.
A film was made in German in 1986. Michael Ende involved himself in the production of the film, after having been disappointed in the adaptation of ''Film/TheNeverendingStory''. The best way to get the DVD is from South Korea via Ebay, as that version is All-Region and has English subtitles. The European version is Region 2 only and has no subtitles.
Not to be confused with ''Momo'', the English translation of ''La Vie Devant Soi'' by Romain Gary.
!!This book provides examples of:
* TheAirNotThere: During the timestop, Momo can still move around, as can the Grey Men and Cassiopeia. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] because all of them carry a bit of their own time with them - Momo has the time flower, the Grey Men have their cigars, and Cassiopeia is explicitly stated to have her own time within her.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: [[spoiler: "Doesn't anybody love you?"]] causes Agent BLW/553/c to crack.
* BadFuture: While Momo sleeps, the Grey Men change the world into a place where nobody has time, with rampant construction and fast food diners, where children's games rely on computers instead of imagination, and where the public only admires idols which could be easily destroyed.
* BaldOfEvil: The Grey Men.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Gigi's biggest dream is to become famous (in the book by telling stories, in the movie by becoming a singer). When his dream comes true, he eventually feels lonely and empty and even says "Momo, the most dangerous things in life are idle wishes that come true."
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Momo herself. She refuses to wear shoes unless it's winter.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: The Grey Men are an aversion, [[spoiler:fighting each other over the last remaining cigars]] - until the very end, when the final words of the last one are "It's good that it's all over."
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: In this case, definitely evil.
* GoodWithNumbers: It is seemingly one of The Grey Men's RequiredSecondaryPowers to be able to make massive multiplication and substraction equations in a few seconds for the purpose of making people feel like they are wasting their time.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: Beppo Roadsweeper. Even when a policeman asks him if Roadsweeper is his surname or his job, he replies "Both".
* FramingDevice: The story of ''Momo'' was supposedly told to the author by a stranger on a train.
* HeartIsAnAwesomePower: Being able to listen to people doesn't sound special, and the narrate notes it outright. But Momo's willingness to listen to anyone, about anything, really does help people work through their worries, fears, and quarrels.
* TheHeartless: The grey men are at one point heavily implied to be these.
* HopeBringer: Momo, even before the paranormal events start. Her willingness to simply listen to anyone does a lot to allay people's fears and worries.
* HumanoidAbomination: The grey men.
* IntangibleTheft: The Grey Men trick people into giving them their spare time, and without any time left for leisure, they lose all emotion and purpose in life.
* LongTitle: The original German subtitle translates to "The strange story of the time-thieves and of the child who returned the stolen time to the people/humans."[[note]] Die seltsame Geschichte von den Zeit-Dieben un von den Kind, das den Menschen die gestohlene Zeit zurueckgebracht[[/note]]
* MathematiciansAnswer: Momo, when asked about her age: "As far as I can remember... I've always been around."
* MeaningfulName: Master Secundus Minutius Hora.
* MindScrew: The entire thing!
** From 1986, with Creator/JohnHuston as Master Hora.
** An Italian animated movie in 2001.
* NarratorAllAlong: The stranger from the framing device is implied at the end to be one of the characters.
* OrphanageOfFear: Before Momo took up living in the Amphitheater, she lived in an orphanage that had bars on the windows and daily beatings. She's horrified at the idea of being sent to another orphanage.
* ParentalAbandonment: Momo doesn't know where her parents are, and before the book started she had escaped from an orphanage of some kind. Her parents are never mentioned again after the first chapter.
* PlaceboEurekaMoment: Momo's listening power has this effect on others.
* SenselessSacrifice: The grey men convince people that the time they give away is being invested in a bank, and that they will earn interest on it. [[spoiler: Instead, they consume it through their cigars. Meanwhile, the people let their lives grow greyer and greyer...]]
* TalkingThroughTechnique: The tortoise Cassiopeia communicates with Momo by words that appear on the back of her shell.
* TimeAbyss: Master Hora is implied to be this - then again, how couldn't he be, seeing as he's the keeper of time for all humans?
* TimeDilation: The brightly lit area on the way to Master Hora's house, where you move faster the more slowly you go and vice versa. The last road to his house is a zone of completely reversed time.
* TimeStandsStill: During the book's finale.
* TurtlePower: Cassiopeia the tortoise
* TheWatcher: Master Hora.
** Cassiopeia can see into the future, but just 30 minutes, and [[YouCannotChangeTheFuture she cannot change how things are going to turn out.]]
** At first glance, Momo herself, with her listening power, might qualify. Until that scene with Gray Man BLW/553/c, where she gets him to betray himself. The earlier scene of her inviting the builder and the bar/restaurant owner can also count; all she does is listen and yet they make up. The book makes a point that she often listens to people pouring their heart out and that helps them realize important truths: like after such a session, a person who thinks they are a dime a dozen will feel like they are irreplaceable and one in a million, and so on.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: Momo
* YouAreNumberSix: The grey men don't have names, just a code in the form of a string of letters and numbers.