From Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter to Rawlplugs, from Sebastian Brant’s “Ship of Fools” to the alarm system that his wife would like for Christmas, from holy relics to unholy bigots: Alois Brandstetter addresses the minutiae of everyday existence and the big questions of life with equal measures of inquisitiveness, insight and irony. Encounters with curious contemporaries and contemporary concepts give rise to reflections that are full of knowledge and worldly wisdom. The “certification of existence” which Brandstetter has to provide to the German Pension Department every year inspires him to deliver one of the most assertive and meaningful “signs of life” in this wonderfully enjoyable book.
In the first of his autobiographical books, Thomas Bernhard carries out a root cause analysis that spares nothing and no one. The boarding school was a prison and the town of Salzburg a terminal disease, where destruction was omni-present. The only guiding light was his grandfather, who spoke to him about Mozart, Rembrandt and Beethoven. These “root causes”, which are more than just hinted at by Bernhard, leave indelible traces across all his work. With precise, sparing strokes and a poignant use of repetition and variation, Lukas Kummer has succeeded in creating a visual take on Thomas Bernhard’s recollections of the horrors of boarding school, war and National Socialism. This is a sympathetic graphic novel that approaches the great author with respect and originality.
A childhood spent in a state of exception – a touching story, unsparingly told. Anna is the daughter of an actress and a business-minded, power-hungry genius designer. Her parents are prominent figures in the public eye. The family suffers from the father’s excessive lifestyle, while the mother’s acting profession places increasing demands on her. Anna spends a lot of time in the care of frequently changing nannies, happy family occasions are rare. A joint holiday on Mykonos turns out to be a life-changing event for the young family, but puts even greater pressure on Anna’s childhood world. In an open and unsparing, yet sensitive manner, Erika Pluhar describes a childhood spent in a state of exception.
It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic and controversial documentary novel. In 1938 the Sandgrube vineyard – one of the most famous vineyard estates in the Wachau valley – is owned by the Jewish businessman Paul Robitschek. His partner is August Rieger. Robitschek and the supposed baron are business partners, as well as glamorous lovers. Denunciations clear the path for the Aryanisation of an estate that would eventually become the basis of the famous Krems vintners’ cooperative – a name that is synonymous with wine and culture far beyond the national borders. This Aryanisation has to date never been the subject of investigation. The authors were able to recover a hoard of documents, enabling them to tell a staggering story of betrayal and loyalty, love and business, destruction and repression.
Barbara Frischmuth's stirring début: the narrow world of a Catholic boarding school, the pupils and their aspirations, the teachers and their rules – the expression of a strict upbringing designed to restrict freedom of feeling, thought and action.
An anonymous narrator makes a complaint to the postmaster of a small Bavarian country post office about the weaknesses of the postmen: one is an alcoholic, the second a womaniser, the third has succumbed to a cultural vice. Of course, the com-plainant’s discontent also applies to the butcher, the vet, the teachers and others – in short: to the inadequacy of the world. The writer, a local resident, keeps complaining about the postal delivery. It is unreliable, he says; the postal delivery is the most unreliable thing. If that’s the way it is, says Blumauer, if that local resident is complaining about the postal delivery, then the following will happen: I shall complain about my moped.
A girl by the name of Nevermind runs away from a camp and comes across the two-pleated toad, which is convinced it has created the world. Together they travel on and are joined by other creatures: a blind hen, a faint-hearted mouse and a loser called Little-Gottfried. All of them are attempting to escape the war, but this can now take on any shape imaginable, and the old, old world is heading for complete destruction. Something has to happen. Eliminate the headquarters! This sounds convincing enough, but nobody knows what or where the headquarters are, much less how they might be eliminated. Luckily the rats decide to step in – when did anything ever work out without the rats?! Can Nevermind succeed in halting the destruction?
Kapfenberg in the Austrian Steiermark region, 1957: In the course of a custody battle, Anna Koinegg reports her child’s father, a former member of the Waffen-SS, for having participated in the execution of Jews. The accusation relates to the shooting of 29 Hungarian Jewish forced labourers in Jennersdorf in the early days of 1945, in which he was supposedly involved. But the political mood favours suppression and the charges are brushed under the carpet – until in 1966 the German authorities become involved and the case lands on the desk of former Spanish Civil War activist and detective Hans Landauer. Together the Mannheim lawyers and the disagreeable inspector from Vienna travel to Jennersdorf, to brake the wall of silence and uncover the traces of a massacre that nobody wants to remember...
A book about responsibilities, the meaning of life and happiness in our age. We live in a hysterical time. A time that enables material wealth and incessant communication, but abandons the individual to his feelings isolation. After the failure of the big political utopias, our longing for happiness, attachment and closeness is all the greater, but we are trapped in our fragmented, accelerated day-to-day lives. The humanist psychologist and author Catalin Dorian Florescu counters this with the image of a serene, creative person capable of relating to others. In the autonomous concentration on their own self, the individual can overcome the attention crisis of our times and build meaningful relationships to others and the world around them.
With intellectual precision and an uncompromising approach, Olga Flor takes a stand against the kind of populist propaganda that is currently so eager to pose as representing the perceived majority opinion of a vaguely defined section of the public. These “politics of emotion” exploit justified fears, rather than analyse their true cause. The increasing lack of economic transparency and growing information density are their feeding ground, simplistic finger-pointing and “gut feelings” their ideological capital. Against this, Olga Flor sets the need for a public discourse that permits dissension and doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the facts, that aims to enlighten rather than obscure.