A beautifully observed novel about how individual acts of bravery can change the course of history.
"This is a beautiful book, a masterpiece of brevity and depth" New European
"This tense novella builds to a final reckoning" The Times
In October 1944, a thirteen-year-old girl arrives in a tiny farming community in Lower Austria, at some distance from the main theatre of war. She remembers very little about how she got there, it seems she has suffered trauma from bombardment. One night a few months later, a young, emaciated Russian appears, a deserter from forced labour in the east. He has nothing with him but a canvas roll, which he guards like a hawk. Their burgeoning friendship is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a group of Wehrmacht soldiers in retreat, who commandeer the farm.
Paulus Hochgatterer's intensely atmospheric, resonant novel is like a painting in itself, a beautiful observation of small shifts from apathy in a community not directly affected by the war, but exhausted by it nonetheless; individual acts of moral bravery which to some extent have the power to change the course of history.
Longlisted for the Austrian Book Prize 2017, this subtle, evocative novella will appeal to readers of Hubert Mingarelli's A MEAL IN WINTER and Jenny Erpenbeck's THE END OF DAYS.
Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch
This is a beautiful book, a masterpiece of brevity and depth. It's rinsed in unspoken despair but what its characters never lose, despite their agonies, despite their trauma, is hope . . . Translated beautifully from the German by Jamie Bulloch, could be his best work yet . . . - New European
This tense novella builds to a final reckoning. Which facet of the human character will triumph
- bravery, evil, or a just a sad, deadening apathy? - The Times
Explores the huge difficulty and danger inherent in doing the right thing at the time of Nazi occupation . . . this is a tiny book, but it contains more unbearable tension than most epic sagas can muster - Bath Life
Hochgatterer's great art is to transform psychological confusion into a language of extreme clarity . . . This Austrian author writes with a sparseness that builds to a powerful crescendo before the dramatic finale. - Neue Zurcher Zeitung
Lean, incredibly vivid sentences ... the tension never lets up - Die Welt
Austria's answer to David Lynch - 3sat Kulturzeit
His novels unleash a force that is rarely felt in contemporary German-language literature - Die Presse
The final days have been reported, filmed, sung and documented a hundred times, but rarely told as vividly as in Paulus Hochgatterer's new book . . . he narrates the last act of a drama in which life and future plans were reshuffled. This could be dismissed as hubris, were Hochgatterer not such a good writer. - Profil
Paulus Hochgatterer lives as a writer and child psychiatrist in Vienna. He is the author of several novels and story collections, including The Sweetness of Life (for which he was the winner of the European Literature Prize) and The Mattress House, two crime novels published by MacLehose Press.