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Wolf Haas

author Wolf Haas

I grew up in a house full of books, many among them crime novels (think: Agatha Christie), but I have only come to appreciate the genre when, while living in Italy, I totally fell in love with Andrea Camilleri’s crime novels. His Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano was named after the Spanish writer Manuel Vázques Montalbán, equally a writer of the so-called social crime novel. Camilleri’s stories are written in Sicilian dialect, and, while they deal in a critical way with the Berlusconi era in Italy, they also reveal a lot about Sicily, its people, and its cuisine. Salvo Montalbano is what we would call a “foodie” (but who in Italy isn’t?), and the descriptions of his meals should not be read while hungry.

Crime fiction is very popular in Europe, and regionally-set crime stories are finally crossing borders. More and more books are being translated and made available to readers from other countries. In particular, Scandinavian crime fiction is now widely-read abroad, thanks to the success of Henning Mankell with his Inspector Kurt Wallander, Stieg Larsson and his Millennium Trilogy, and Norwegian author Jo Nesbø with his protagonist inspector Harry Hole.

Ursula PoznanskiIn Austria in recent years, we have also seen a rise in popularity for regionally set crime novels. Wolf Haas and his detective novels with protagonist Simon Brenner are among the best known. Another author whose books have been translated into English is the Austrian author and psychiatrist Paulus Hochgatterer with his fictional characters psychiatrist Raffael Horn and criminal commissioner Kovacs. In The Sweetness of Life and The Mattress House, the protagonists have to deal with crimes that involve serious psychiatric cases. Ursula Poznanski writes crime stories for young adults and adults, and her thriller Erebos, the story about an online game with manipulative powers that becomes very popular among students, has been a huge success not only in German speaking countries.

Other great contemporary Austrian writers of crime fiction you should check out (their works are available in our library in German) are:

Stefan Slupetzky
Georg Haderer
Eva Rossmann
Gerhard Loibelsberger
Heinrich Steinfest

TotenfrauStill relatively unknown is the writer Bernhard Aichner, but, according to a recent article on the website of Austrian Public Television (orf.at, http://orf.at/stories/2221507/), his new crime story Totenfrau apparently is already a big success.  The book rights for many countries, as well as the film rights, have already been sold before its publication, which is very rare.

If you are interested in reading Austrian crime fiction, which is a great way to get to know more about a country and its regional peculiarities, please contact me at library@acfny.org or by phone 212 319 5300.

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