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Marianne Fritz: Dessen Sprache du nicht verstehst [Whose Language You Do Not Understand]

I am not even going to try and review this book, as it may be the most complex novel I have ever read. It tells the story of a working-class Austrian family called Null (Zero) who live in a town called Nirgendwo (Nowhere). It links their story with the mythic story of Austria in a highly stylized and complex manner which has to be read to be believed. If you don’t read German, it is unlikely that you will get a chance to read it. Even if you do read German, you might find it hard-going, as she uses archaic language, an unusual sentence structure, odd punctuation and arbitrarily drops articles. It probably also has to be read several times to get a grip on it. A mythical view of history and a mythical view of Austria is the result as, for example, Joyce does for Ireland and its history (though there the similarities end). This is one of those books that clearly you have to go back to and each time you will get a bit more but it will be a struggle.

Publishing history

First published in German 1986 by Suhrkamp

No English translation