Nominated for the Austrian Book Award 2023: LONGLIST

On October 10 we will know the shortlist, on November 6 the winner. For now I am feeling happy and grateful that these two candidates made it: PROPERTY by Wolf Haas, a completely new reading experience from one of the best-known authors made in Austria, and WHAT WE LIVE ON by Birgit Birnbacher, the second novel to her name and never ever have I seen book critics go so in for a novel!

  1. Birgit Birnbacher, WHAT WE LIVE ON, Zsolnay, February, 192 pages:
  • winner of the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize 2019
  • # 2 on FICTION List Best Books March 2023
  • by the author of ME BY MY SIDE: nominated for the German Book Award 2020, rights sold to Bulgaria (Black Flamingo),Croatia (Hena Com), Italy (Mar dei Sargassi)
  • enormous press echo !!!

A single error catapults Julia from her nursing job back to her former life in the village where she grew up. There, everything seems even worse than she remembers. The factory where half the community used to work has closed. Her father’s health is alarmingly fragile, and after years of sacrifice, her mother has left him and her sick brother to make a fresh start. When Julia meets Oskar, who’s recovering from a heart attack, she’s envious at first. Oskar’s income will tide him over for a year and he’s making plans. But what does Julia see for her future?

How can we continue to work in a way that’s fulfilling? How can we distribute care work fairly? And how do we want to live in a world in which work no longer needs us? Birgit Birnbacher, a master of “unsentimental empathy” (Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau), uses captivating, lyrical language to ask how and from what we want to live. The Bachmann prizewinner is an adept literary narrator who uses everyday language directly, honestly and sensitively. What We Live On is a novel about work and family, daughters and mothers – and the rift between boundless individualism and romantic love.

2. Wolf Haas, PROPERTY, Carl Hanser, September 160 pages:

Widely known for his grim humor and super successfull crime series, here comes a tender portrait of Wolf Haas‘ mother: enjoyable, touching and, yes, funny. 1st print run of 100.000 copies!

Haas’s mother, almost ninety-five years old, is dying, but she tells her son that she feels fine. »It annoyed me to no end. My whole life long, Mum had painted a picture of how much she was suffering. Three days before she died, she announced that she was doing fine. There had to be a mistake.« His mother experienced the meaning of property by losing everything. She was born in 1923, but »then inflation came and the money was gone.« As a child, she endured poverty, worked and saved every penny. But it was never even enough for her to buy even a single square metre. Wolf Haas tells his mother’s desperate story with such loving, grim humour that it is simply unforgettable. At last, a new novel by Wolf Haas – containing everything that his readers hoped for.