Tag Archives: Austrian literature

Excerpt from the article in The American Reader:

This year, apocalyptic books seemed to have touched upon a collective nerve. In an introductory clip, festival curators Susan Bernofsky (author, teacher, and acclaimed translator of Robert Walser and numerous other German-language authors) and Claudia Steinberg (author, journalist, and co-star of Rosa von Praunheim’s celebrated films “Survival in New York” (1989) and “New York Memories” (2010)) talk about the various dynamics dystopian and apocalyptic thinking adopt in contemporary literature—ranging from the disturbed relationship between the individual and society and between the individual and the self to the manner in which impending catastrophe creeps into and poisons even the closest and most intimate human relationships.

This is how Bernofsky described Austrian author Clemens J. Setz’s novel Indigo (2012): “You have an illness, and this is what the illness is: you walk around, and everyone around you gets sick. Like, very sick.” As it turns out, children born with a mysterious syndrome are sent off to an Austrian institute, where their “indigo potential” is exploited for shady purposes. When a protagonist with the author’s name, a former tutor to the children, begins researching their disappearance, he stumbles upon a secret subterranean world. Setz’s novel was shortlisted for the German Book Prize; his collection from 2011, Love in Times of the Mahlstadt Child, won the 2011 Leipzig Book Fair Prize and prompted comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. It is a kind of spooky-smart science fiction novel, a post-modern montage of reality and fiction based on existing phenomena and trends in which illness becomes the metaphoric obsidian mirror held up to a society plagued by its own darker forces.




Ulrike Ulrich, author of Staying Gone, 2010



Now in the January 2013 issue of Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics

“Every lover of Bernhard’s writing becomes, at some point, a missionary. We want to convert people to his circular logic, infect them with the bruised beauty of his mordantly comic rant; we want everyone to comprehend that Bernhard is not only dark, but deeply human and irresistibly funny; that he’s not a pessimist, a cynic, or a misanthrope, but a relentless observer whose tender heart is encased in a prickly shell of invective: against hypocrisy, against stupidity, against duplicity in all its forms. We zealous lovers of Bernhard want to tell you all about the hypnotic pull of a passionate mind navigating whirlpools of obsessive repetition as it revolves around and around what cannot be expressed in words; we want to describe to you, in detail, how this mind finally succeeds in articulating the most elusive and elementary truths of the human condition. How the syntactical force of his prose conjures the compulsive patterns — evasion, self-deception, internalization, projection, idealization — thought undergoes as it seeks to conceal from itself what it already, all too well, knows.”


Published in issue 7–1 of Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics. 

Senior Editors: Andrea Scrima and Carole Viers-Andronico.

To view the PDF: Hyperion Bernhard 2013