I am so excited about the third edition of the annual Festival Neue Literatur taking place this coming weekend in different venues around the city. The idea behind the festival is to bring new German-language authors to New York, and Austria will be represented by authors Linda Stift and Erwin Uhrmann.
There will be two conversations with the authors, one on Saturday, Feb. 11, and one on Sunday, Feb 12, at Powerhouse Arena Bookstore and McNally Jackson Bookstore, respectively. I wouldn’t miss them for the world and I surely won’t miss the Frühschoppen Literary Brunch at Deutsches Haus at NYU. If you are interested in participating at the Frühschoppen make your reservations soon by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, because tickets are limited.
To see a full schedule of the events, please visit the website of Festival Neue Literatur, where you can also find detailed information about the writers from Germany and Switzerland, as well as two US-writers, who will participate in the festival.
My first encounter with Linda Stift’s work was when I read her novels Kingpeng and Stierhunger a few years back and I was immediately fascinated by her descriptions of complex and uncommon human relationships.
In Kingpeng, a brother and a sister who share an apartment and co-own a party service company, become witnesses to a murder in their rich neighbors’ apartment. The reader is left to speculate about the siblings’ connection to the murder and the relationship between them.
Stierhunger tells the story of a young woman who meets an elegant elderly lady in front of a pastry shop and follows her invitation to join her for cake at her house. Several invitations follow, and everything revolves around food. Suddenly, the young woman finds herself struggling with bulimia again. The elderly lady, who bears a resemblance to Sissi (the iconic Empress Elisabeth of Austria) takes care of her but also starts to control her life in more threatening ways.
Paul is anything but pleased when his brother Paco, a mediocre soap opera actor, turns up in town for a film shoot. The brothers are Siamese twins, but Paco has never come to terms with their separation and Paul has had to move away more than once to keep his brother at arm’s length. Now Paco bursts back into his life with a vengeance. He ends up staying the night at his brother’s after they’ve been out on a drinking spree, and after that Paul simply can’t get rid of him. Unfortunately, Paul’s girlfriend, Jenny, is delighted with his twin. And then, adding to Paul’s mounting panic, Paco makes it onto a TV reality show, where the winner receives free cosmetic surgery – just what kind will be decided by the audience. Paco sees the show as a great boost for his career, whereas Paul is disgusted by his craving for publicity. But Paul, too, has his dark side, and it is coming to light…
Listen to Linda Stift reading from Kein einziger Tag:
The other Austrian writer present at the festival is Erwin Uhrmann. He will read from his first novel Der lange Nachkrieg (The War Beyond) which was followed in 2011 by the novel Glauber Rocha.
Der lange Nachkrieg (The War Beyond): Hector’s great aunt died long ago and he barely knew her, but suddenly the circumstances of her death in a nursing home appear enormously important to him. Hector – young, well-educated, an academic just setting out on a successful career – begins looking into the death, but perhaps he actually is plunging into the past in order to avoid taking control of his own life, which increasingly appears to be unraveling. Over the course of a hot summer Hector gradually loses his connection to reality and to other people – his girlfriend Carla proves to be of no help to him, his mother even less. In his confused state, vacillating between reality and illusion, lethargy, and aggression, he wanders from Austria to Trieste to Belgrade.
The Festival Neue Literatur website offers sample translations from all the participating authors.