Die Flut (Ulrike Schmitzer)

Die Flut is a novella by Ulrike Schmitzer. As far as I know, it hasn’t been translated, but the title means The Flood.
Finished on: 12.4.2018

Plot:
Red mud has flooded the land, covering pretty much everything. Any human who touches it, turns black, as if coated in paint. Fearing an epidemic, that the blackness might spread, not knowing whether it has an effect apart from the change in looks, hard measures are being taken to control and quarantine the affected. In this situation, a farmer is looking for his grandson. And he has to hurry – not just because the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for everybody, but also because his skin has started to change and if anybody realizes that, he’ll be in big trouble.

Die Flut is a slim volume and gives us a taste of a very unusual worldbuilding and a generally interesting writer. It’s the first thing I read by Schmitzer, but I’ll be sure to check out what else she’s done.

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Superheldinnen (Barbi Marković)

Superheldinnen [translates as Superheroines] is a novel by Barbi Marković:
Finished on: 20.3.2018
[Here’s my review of the stage adaptation.]

Plot:
Every Saturday, three women come together in a Viennese café to pool their powers and send good vibes to the people who deserve and need them. They have strict rules for that which means that they’re able to keep working together, even though they couldn’t be any more different. In fact, the only things they seem to have in common are that none of them were born in Austria, and that they all have powers. But on this particular Saturday, all three of them have some kind of deviation from their usual procedure in mind.

Superheldinnen is an ambitious novel that captured my attention. Albeit it not succesful in everything that it attempts, it is an enjoyable read that has interesting things to say.

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Krambambuli und andere Erzählungen [Krambambuli and Other Stories] (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

Krambambuli und andere Erzählungen is a collection of short stories by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach.
Finished on: 2.12.2017

There are three of Ebner-Eschenbach’s short stories in this collection, all revolving around dogs and/or loyalty, and all designed to extract the maximum amount of tears from me. The stories and her writing are really good, but you gotta be in the right mood to want to cry this much.

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Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (Vea Kaiser)

Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (literally: Brass Music Pop or How Science Came into the Mountains) is Vea Kaiser‘s first novel.
Finished on: 26.9.2017

Plot:
Johannes Gerlitzen was the first person to leave St. Peter am Anger, a small mountain village, and to return as an academic, a Doctor (even if he had to trick a little to get his qualifications). Now his grandson, also called Johannes, is groomed by him to also go into science. And little Johannes takes that very seriously, although natural sciences are less his cup of tea. The rest of the village doesn’t really understand the Johanneses, and little Johannes doesn’t understand them, either.

I’ve heard many good things about Blasmusikpop and how funny it is, but I struggled with it. It does get better towards the end, but it does take some time until it gets there.

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Tristan da Cunha (Raoul Schrott) – DNF

Tristan da Cunha oder Die Hälfte der Erde is a novel by Raoul Schrott.
Given up on: 23.4.2017

Plot:
Tristan da Cunha is a novel in layers, all of which are connected to the island Tristan da Cunha, the remotest place on earth that is still inhabited by people. The South African researcher Noomi is on her way there. She finds writings on Tristan, specifically of three different men who were also connected to the island: the letters of Edwin Heron Dodgson, a priest and Lewis Carroll’s brother; the diary of Christian Reval, a cartographer; and the research report of Mark Thompson, a philatelist.

There’s not much that I can say about Tristan da Cunha because I fought my way through the first 200 pages or so (of a 700 pages book) which took me almost a week – during my holidays where I actually have time to read. Ten I just gave up. While I thought that Tristan da Cunha is an incredibly interesting place, I just couldn’t stand the tone of the book, I didn’t relate to the characters and everything was so absolutely boring, that I decided I’d rather spend my precious reading time on something that actually works for me.

 

Magdalena Sünderin (Lilian Faschinger)

Magdalena Sünderin [literally: Magdalena Sinner] is a novel by Lilian Faschinger.
Finished on: 24.3.2017

Plot:
Magdalena has lived an eventful life and finds that it is time to confess. To make sure that she has the undivided attention, she decides the best way to do that is to simply abduct a priest. So she grabs priest Christian, brings him to a remote location, ties him to a tree and tells him about her life with seven different men and the ends they found – at her hand.

I liked a lot about Magdalena Sünderin, but the book never really won me over completely. I would have liked to like it more.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Winters Garten (Valerie Fritsch)

Winters Garten (translates literally to Winter’s Garden) is a novel by Valerie Fritsch. As far as I know, it has not been translated into English.
Finished on: 7.1.2017

Plot:
Anton Winter spent a lot of his childhood at his grandparents’ house and garden. Now he’s an ornithologist in his fourties and looks at the ruins of a city in a world devastated by war. He is a loner, but when he happens to meet Friederike, he falls in love. He starts working with her at a birthing clinic and they get closer. But with the end of the world fast approaching, they have very little future, only the hopes that fill their present.

Winters Garten is Literature-with-a-capital-L and while I loved to get a speculative fiction novel from Austria, I couldn’t really get into that literary style that – to me – felt like it was trying too hard.

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Leben ohne Geheimnis [Falling Star] (Vicki Baum)

Leben ohne Geheimnis [translated as Falling Star, literally: Life Without Secrets] is a novel by Vicki Baum.
Finished on 16.11.2016

Plot:
Oliver Dent is a Hollywood star who has just reached the height of his career, mostly because he’s just that good-looking. He meets Donka Morescu, an actress who used to be one of the greats in the silent film era, but was dropped with the rise of sound film because her accent is simply too strong. Oliver and Donka fall very much in love, while Oliver’s friend Aldens, a German, starts dating Francis who dreams of fame and Oliver. But in a world where every action is up for scrutiny by the press and every emotion is tainted by movies, living love can be very difficult indeed.

Leben ohne Geheimnis isn’t a completely bad book, but I liked the idea of this story and the characters in it more than I liked the actual story and characters.

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Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei (H.C. Artmann)

Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei. Von der Erschaffung der Welt und ihren Dingen is a collection of fairy tales/myths by H.C. Artmann. The title literally means: The sun was a green egg. Of the creation of the world and its things.
Finished on 5.9.2016

Plot:
The creation of the world as you’ve never seen it before: Maybe the sun really is an egg. Maybe Coffee Mill and Paper Kite are responsible for the creation of living things. Or maybe it was a magician and false prophet. Or…

Artmann created some very fantastic (in the literal sense) and weird stories, but in some ways they are more of the same old, same old – especially with regards to sexism. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the collection for the most part.

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Auroras Anlaß [Aurora’s Motive] (Erich Hackl)

Aurora’s Anlaß is the first novel by Erich Hackl. It was translated as Aurora’s Motive and is based on the actual lives of Aurora Rodríguez and her daughter Hildegart Rodríguez.
Finished on: 28.8.2016.

Plot:
One day, Aurora Rodríguez gets up in the morning, takes a gun and shoots her teenaged daughter Hildegart with whom she has always been close. Then she goes to the police to confess. Aurora brought up Hildegart on her own, and she worked extremely hard to groom her into a feminist, critical thinker and political leader – and Hildegart was a highly gifted girl who showed every promise to fufill her mother’s dream. So what could have possibly led her to do what she did?

With Auroras Anlaß, Hackl combines historical research with literary writing and a dash of journalism, telling a fascinating (true) story in an extremely intriguing way.

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