“As regards his will towards monomania, Gerhard Amanshauser cannot compare to his friend Thomas Bernhard. In terms of literary boldness, Thomas Bernhard cannot compare to Gerhard Amanshauser. Of all Austrian writers yet to be discovered, this cosmopolitan from Salzburg is the most important.”
FALTER, Daniel Kehlmann
“As Barbarian in the Prater” is more than the autobiography of its author born in 1928 in Salzburg. It is also an engaging novel about childhood and youth in Austria (1928-1950).
Peter Henisch’s novel follows the title’s hero over the course of half a century on his search for his father and happiness. It’s the story of the son of an Austrian tram conductress and a black American serviceman, born 1946 in Vienna. At this time, and indeed up to the 1970s, there were hardly any coloured people in Vienna and they were not regarded as a threat. By the 1990s, when Peter Jarosch briefly and unsuccessfully returns there after a spell in New Orleans, the issue of “foreigners” has become one of the most politically explosive in Austria. Peter’s colour, however, is not the essence of what makes him different. The real point is that he simply feels different. This is brought home to him in childhood when, cast as one of the Three Kings in the Nativity play, he, for obvious reasons, is the only one who does not have to make up.
Henisch gives us in fact a substantial character study in which the fortunes of the hero-narrator subtly but sweepingly follow those of post-war Austria itself. A plus, moreover, for the Anglo-Saxon reader is the device of moving part of the action to the USA, to which Peter emigrates and where, one is led to surmise, he ends as an alcoholic bar pianist.
Kathrin Röggla is eavesdropping on this Berlin of words, discovering sounds, dialogues and scenes that have never been heard in this raving lightness before (…) prose sustained by a distinct sound.
Hanns Zischler, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Kathrin Röggla takes the new Berlin by its words: (...) scores on urban lingo and the syndromes of the urban scene, consistently put down in lower-case.
Christiane Zintzen, Neue Zürcher Zeitung