Paulina Neblo can look back on an eventful life. As a choreographer, she founded a successful dance company, she had numerous affairs and a daughter, who she loves more than anything, and finally, as a mature woman, led a fulfilled marriage. But when she loses her husband in a fatal car accident and is hit by the next blow of fate – her daughter’s death – shortly after, Paulina retreats from an active life. At the age of 70, she decides to become a chronicler of her present, noting daily tidbits and facing the fact that old age holds no future. But her memories of the past cannot be cast aside and those surrounding Paulina do not accept her chosen isolation… Erika Pluhar has written a sensitive, yet brutally honest book about aging, desires and fears. Poetic, true-to-life and intense.
Modernity’s core endeavour is to increase our personal reach, our grasp on the world. However, according to Hartmut Rosa’s controversial theory, this available world is a silent one. There is no longer a dialogue with it. Rosa counters this progressive estrangement between human and world with what he refers to as “resonance”: a reverberating, unquantifiable relationship with an unavailable world. Resonance develops when we engage with something unknown, something irritating, something that lies beyond our controlling reach. The outcome of this process can’t be planned or predicted, thus a moment of unavailability is always inherent to the occurrence of resonance.
One December evening, a bright pink long-distance bus bearing the inscription SPERANZA sets off on its journey from Vienna to Romania. The nocturnal drive brings together people who spend their life in the grey zones of Europe’s labour market. Their pay secures their family’s subsistence, their absence creates new problems. Florin hires himself out as a harvest hand to enable his mother in Bucharest to retire. Daiana cleans private homes in Vienna, even though she has a degree. Ioan, one of the drivers, recounts his first border crossing. “Autobus Ultima Speranza” finds a language for a life spent continuously on the hop, for the hopes and disappointments, the restlessness and structural violence that accompany it.
Fear is a basic human emotion, but it shouldn’t rule a person’s life. Everyone feels fear at certain times. It is a primal feeling that can dominate our being. Nothing is as defining as mental anxiety. Fear paralyses us. Makes us ill. But it can also drive us to peak performance. Fear opens the gates of the human psyche for numerous mental disturbances: Panic, phobias and personal worries, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders and addictions. What is the nature of fear? What function does it have? How can fear be utilised or overcome? Why do people seek out fear by watching horror films or by participating in extreme sports? In their new book, Georg Psota and Michael Horowitz provide answers to these questions and present a way out of fear.
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.
For Albert Einstein she was “our Madame Curie”, for the Nazis an unwanted Jew and for the tabloid press “the mother of the atom bomb”. Only the second woman to receive a doctorate in physics, Lise Meitner graduated from the University of Vienna in 1906 and established herself in the male dominated science community. In 1938 she fled from the National Socialists and settled in Sweden, where she achieved her big breakthrough together with Otto Frisch: the discovery of the principle of nuclear fission. But the Nobel Prize she deserved eluded her. She spent the final years of her life in Cambridge. The authors paint a portrait of Meitner’s life against the backdrop of the rapid progress of nuclear physics and the great catastrophes of the 20th century, and provide new insights in the world of this unique scientist.
Never in human history has life changed so dramatically in such a short time for so many people as it has in China over the past 30 years. Under the command of state president and party leader Xi Jinping, China is storming its way into the top tier of global powers. Raimund Löw and Kerstin Witt-Löw have first-hand experience of the material rise of the Chinese middle classes and the country’s strict boundaries specified through censorship and political patronization. Raimund Löw has also reported from Peking and Hong Kong for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF. What remains of Mao? How does Peking intend to deal with the smog and the poisoning of the environment? How does China view its role in the world? These are some of the issues discussed in this analytical reportage on the 21st century’s greatest emerging superpower.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s childhood and youth was shaped by hardship and the after-effects of World War II, the parenting codex of the aristocracy to which his family belonged and the love for music. The world was in upheaval, it was a time of great political and societal change. To give his children and grandchildren a greater understanding of this era Harnoncourt wrote down his memories and reflections in a “family book”. How did his family deal with the economic and political shifts? What was life like when everything was no longer what it had been? And what traditions shaped the Harnoncourt family? Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s personal account is a fascinating record of the past.
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.