Are you a fellow bookworm traveling to Austria soon? You might wanna read these 6 books about Austria before visiting.
The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth)
Strauss’s Radetzky March, signature tune of one of Europe’s most powerful regimes, presides over Joseph Roth’s account of three generations of the Trotta family in the years preceding the Austro-Hungarian collapse in 1918. Grandfather, son and grandson are equally dependent on the empire: the first for his enoblement; the second for the civil virtues that make him a meticulous servant of an administration whose failure he can neither comprehend nor survive; the third for the family standards of conduct which he cannot attain but against which he is too enfeebled to rebel.
The Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil)
Set in Vienna on the eve of World War I, this great novel of ideas tells the story of Ulrich, ex-soldier and scientist, seducer and skeptic, who finds himself drafted into the grandiose plans for the 70th jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef. This new translation – published in two elegant volumes – is the first to present Musil’s complete text, including material that remained unpublished during his lifetime.
The World of Yesterday (Stefan Zweig)
The World of Yesterday, mailed to his publisher a few days before Stefan Zweig took his life in 1942, has become a classic of the memoir genre. Originally titled “Three Lives,” the memoir describes Vienna of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire, the world between the two world wars and the Hitler years.
Translated from the German by Benjamin W. Huebsch and Helmut Ripperger; with an introduction by Harry Zohn, 34 illustrations, a chronology of Stefan Zweig’s life and a new bibliography, by Randolph Klawiter, of works by and about Stefan Zweig in English.
The Piano Teacher (Elfriede Jelinek)
Erika Kohut teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory by day. By night she trawls the city’s porn shows while her mother, whom she loves and hates in equal measure, waits up for her. Into this emotional pressure-cooker bounds music student and ladies’ man Walter Klemmer.
With Walter as her student, Erika spirals out of control, consumed by the ecstasy of self-destruction. A haunting tale of morbid voyeurism and masochism, The Piano Teacher, first published in 1983, is Elfreide Jelinek’s Masterpiece.
Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature in 2004 for her ‘musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society’s cliches and their subjugating power.
The Piano Teacher was adapted into an internationally successful film by Michael Haneke in 2001, which won three major prizes at Cannes, including the Grand Prize and Best Actress for Isabelle Huppert.
The Dog King (Christopher Ransmayr)
From Christoph Ransmayr, whose brilliant rise to preeminence among the younger generation of writers in the German language was recently crowned when he shared with Salman Rushdie Europe’s most prestigious new literary award, the Aristeion Prize–a novel in which fiction and history are forged into a universe of mythic intensity.
World War II has ended, but only in the West. Central Europe is slipping back into its agricultural past. The bomb has not yet been dropped–nor will it be for twenty years. The Allies have punished Germany for its war crimes by forcing it to revert to a preindustrial age: power stations, railways, factories, and all the machinery of technology have been destroyed or abandoned and left to decay. Moor is a small quarry town (Mauthausen in the all-too-recent past of real history). The occupying American army has installed a camp survivor, Ambras, to govern the local population. Brave, lonely, hated and feared by his former persecutors, Ambras has returned to Moor only because his Jewish wife died there. Setting up house in a derelict villa surrounded by wild hounds that earn him the nickname the Dog King, he chooses another loner, the village boy Bering, as his bodyguard. Moving away from his family and into the compound, the boy enters a new universe of power, of half-glimpsed ideas, of contact with the forbidden world outside. And he meets the only other person Ambras welcomes, a strange and beautiful orphan girl named Lily who lives and hunts in the hills, who knows where the weapons are hidden and forages in the “free world for the goods the villagers crave. But Bering’s new life begins to unravel as he succumbs to a strange eye disease known as Morbus Kitahara, in which the vision gradually darkens and which tends to afflict marksmen and sharpshooters. Only Lily can find help, can offer them all a possible future.
The three make a courageous bid to escape, and the account of their flight brings the novel to its extraordinarily gripping and suspenseful climax.
Searingly powerful, with a poetic intensity that stays with the reader long after the last page, The Dog King is a modern masterpiece.
The Tobacconist (Robert Seethaler)
When seventeen-year-old Franz exchanges his home in the idyllic beauty of the Austrian lake district for the bustle of Vienna, his homesickness quickly dissolves amidst the thrum of the city. In his role as apprentice to the elderly tobacconist Otto Trsnyek, he will soon be supplying the great and good of Vienna with their newspapers and cigarettes. Among the regulars is a Professor Freud, whose predilection for cigars and occasional willingness to dispense romantic advice will forge a bond between him and young Franz. It is 1937. In a matter of months Germany will annex Austria and the storm that has been threatening to engulf the little tobacconist will descend, leaving the lives of Franz, Otto and Professor Freud irredeemably changed…