Book look: Köhlmeier’s poems, Saviano’s struggle and food lies

After publishing a 730-page tome including fairytales from all across the globe, Vorarlberg-based author Michael Köhlmeier has created his first collection of poems. “Der Liebhaber bald nach dem Frühstück”, which features more than 70 poems, is out now. The release marks another interesting turning point in the versatile writer’s career. Köhlmeier released “Madalyn”, an acclaimed novel, and other books soon after receiving several awards for his epic story of an Austrian family, “Abendland”, in 2007. Köhlmeier does not shy away from commenting political developments and imbalances in society either. In 2009, he joined ORF anchorwoman Ingrid Thurnher in the “Sommergespräche”, a popular political talk show. Köhlmeier and Thurnher interviewed Josef Bucher, the head of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), at the Domplatz Square in Salzburg.

Der Liebhaber bald nach dem Frühstück
By Michael Köhlmeier
Published by Hanser (www.hanser-literaturverlage.de)

Roberto Saviano is best known for “Gomorra”, his gripping novel about organised crime in southern Italy. The Olof Palme Prize laureate is forced to live in hiding due to his strong engagement against his home country’s Mafia organisations. Saviano, who receives murder threats on a regular basis, now portrayed fellow Italians who refuse to stop fighting inequalities caused by corrupt officials and businesspeople (“Der Kampf geht weiter”). Friederike Hausmann and Rita Seuß translated “Vieni via con me” into German.

Der Kampf geht weiter
By Roberto Saviano
Published by Hanser (www.hanser-literaturverlage.de)

Der Spiegel reporter Alexander Neubacher has written a book to uncover the malpractices of the foodstuff industry – and to highlight how consumers make it all worse, despite their good intentions to go green. In “Ökofimmel”, the Krefeld-born author lists advices shoppers can stick to if they really want to make a difference in times of rising carbon emissions and soaring food prices. He takes a closer look at what a possible introduction of so-called eco fuel E10 could cause. Neubacher also investigates the latest developments in the nuclear energy industry. Other chapters focus on ecological footprint myths and debatable forecasts on what the future might bring for consumers in industrialised countries and people living in developing nations plagued by famines and food supply bottlenecks.

Ökofimmel
By Alexander Neubacher
Published by DVA (www.dva.de)

From German pop to US hip hop in Vienna

Some of the most popular rock and rap acts will perform in Austria in the coming days and weeks.

Already tomorrow (31 October), British trio Kosheen will hit the stage in Vienna. The band fronted by Sian Evans are ready to rock the Flex club. Keane will perform in the capital city tomorrow as well. The Brit Award laureates’ concert will take place at the Gasometer concert hall.

Indie rockers Petsch Moser and singer-songwriter duo Christoph & Lollo form an excellent double bill offered by Vienna’s Chelsea club this Thursday (1 November). One day later, German pop legend Herbert Grönemeyer will perform at the Konzerthaus in Vienna-Landstraße. Grönemeyer – whose 2011 album “Schiffsverkehr” topped the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – released a best of record called “Was muss muss” four years ago. “Mensch” (2002) is his biggest commercial success to date.

While Grönemeyer has been the darling of mainstream pop radio stations for decades, Seeed have become one of the biggest names in German hip hop in the past few years. The Berlin-based band will come to Vienna (21 November) and Linz (5 December) before performing in Styrian capital Graz on 6 December.

Viennese music enthusiasts are also looking forward to the concerts by Lionel Richie (22 November, Stadthalle), Gossip (23 November, Gasometer) and Everlast (“What It’s Like”). The American rapper’s gig at the Porgy & Bess on 4 December is already considered as one of the highlights of the upcoming cold period of hot live music.

The real Bond

A secret agent who gets equipped with a bicycle to carry out his assignments, binge-drinking sessions before noon – and loads of wild sex. This is the vibrant mixture making the Burgtheater’s “Getränk Hoffnung” one of the most exciting plays currently performed in Vienna.

Especially Dietmar König as “Bond” is brilliant in the play by David Lindemann. König and Alexandra Henkel, who also performs in “Die Kommune”, make a perfect match in this new play packed with great quotes and surprising twists.

Michael Schachermaier directs the play which is performed at the Burgtheater’s small Vestibül stage this season after immense success in the previous one. The plot’s effects are strengthened by the narrowness of the venue, and the play’s five actors take the audience on a crazy ride featuring making a mockery of banks’ business model and the crisis in general.

Apart from “Getränk Hoffnung”, the Burgtheater is currently drawing the crowds with Elfriede Jelinek’s “Winterreise”, “Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind” starring Johannes Krisch (“Gespenster”) and a string of new productions such as “Elektra” which premiered last night.

>> http://www.burgtheater.at

Book look: Hermann Hesse

The release of a very special calendar enthuses literature enthusiasts.

The Hermann Hesse calendar for 2013 – promoted as a “literalistic companion throughout the year” not only features short texts by the celebrated novelist but also some of his paintings. The essays and poems featured in the Insel Taschenbuch publication fit in nicely as Hesse wrote about carnival, spring and other cultural and weather-related occasions of all months.

Hesse, who died in 1962, is arguably one of the most important representatives of German literature of all time. His most significant novellas and novels were released between 1919 and 1930. Books such as “Der Steppenwolf” from 1927 are still an essential part of curricula everywhere in the world. Sociologists and psychologist keep analysing the contents and controversies of Hesse’s works as young and old are still beguiled by his brilliant compositions.

Hermann Hesse Kalender für das Jahr 2013
Published by Insel Taschenbuch (www.suhrkamp.de)

Book look: Wolfgang Geier

Readers everywhere in the world are confronted with a flood of new books about the United States as the presidential elections are approaching. Austria is not an exception to the rule in this regard. One of these new publications is “Obamerika. Berichte aus dem Land der unbegrenzten Gegensätze.”

In the Galila publication, the experienced journalist portrays “a country of unlimited differences”. Geier analyses the USA’s difficult relation to Europe, the recent swing to the right in domestic politics and the role of the banks in the crisis.

Geier also deplores the dismal condition of infrastructure in many parts of the United States. He does not only do so in his new book. In a guest commentary in the Wiener Zeitung, an Austrian newspaper, Geier underlines that “streets, rails and electric cables are rotting across the country – while Apple, Google & Co are raking in billions”. He adds: “The state debt is exploding and China is getting closer as the new superpower.”

Geier explains that uncertainty, aggression and fear from further changes to the worse are dominating people’s minds. Geier – who became national television broadcaster ORF’s Washington, D.C. correspondent in 2009 – concludes that these circumstances curbed incumbent President Barack Obama’s motivation to reveal bold new visions in the intensifying election campaign.

Furthermore, Geier emphasises that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans stress future issues in the current battle. He claims that, while the Republicans’ Tea Party section mostly refers to late US President Ronald Reagan’s agenda, their liberal opponents hope that Obama can restructure the economy to create a similar system as the one established by Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

In an article published by Viennese newspaper WirtschaftsBlatt, Geier points out that “only the rich are getting richer” these days in the United States while “more than 12,000 lobbyists in the capital do their bit in paralysing the political system”. The Kufstein-born author of “Obamerika” says that Obama’s possible reelection would also base on the weakness of his opponents.

Obamerika. Berichte aus dem Land der unbegrenzten Gegensätze.
By Wolfgang Geier
Published by Galila (www.galila.at)

Book look: Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler

“Hamlet oder Happel” is a collection of articles and essays by late literature expert Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler. By featuring soccer management legend Ernst Happen, the book’s title refers to the author’s two major passions: great literature and football excellence.

The publication – released by Klever Verlag – includes over 30 articles by Schmidt-Dengler. In the texts, the Zagreb-born Austrian, who passed away in September 2008, analyses matches of several World Cups and praises the “spicy” free kicks of David Beckham. However, the Euro2008 is considered too. The tournament took place in Austria and Switzerland.

Another essential part of “Hamlet oder Happel” is devoted to his passion for Austrian Football Bundesliga side Rapid Vienna. “Rapid is a religion,” Schmidt-Dengler claims, adding that “Lord Football reigns at St. Hanappi”. Rapid supporters often refer to the club’s home ground as “St. Hanappi” to underline its special status instead of bothering with its official name, Gerhard Hanappi Stadion.

Referring to a young fan’s poster, Schmidt-Dengler concludes: “If Rapid is able to replace religion for the youth, it can do so for the elderly as well.” Essays in which the Theodor Körner Award laureate – who was the director of the National Library’s literature archive – focuses on the many similarities of religion and his favourite sport are presented as an own chapter in “Hamlet oder Happel”.

Hamlet oder Happel. Eine Passion.
By Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler
Published by Klever (www.klever-verlag.com)

Maurer maniacs get ready for Niedermair show

Thomas Maurer will continue his successful “Out of the Dark. Ein Blick zurück.”-Tour at a tradition-rich stage in Vienna next month, it has been announced.

The Salzburger Stier laureate will perform his current programme – which bears the same title as a Falco song – at the Kabarett Niedermair on 22 November. “Out of the Dark” is meant to be a best of programme, according to the artist. Maurer (www.thomasmaurer.at) claims that he has nothing but fond memories of the past 22 years of performing Kabarett programmes. This arguably ironic statement might hint that Maurer – who has appeared in Oliver Baier’s acclaimed TV comedy show “Was gibt es Neues?” many times – will also have a closer look at setbacks he had to cope with in the past.

Maurer’s CV does not only boast with 22 one-person stage programmes. He has also been part of some of national TV’s best satirical comedy productions of the past years – including “Wir Staatskünstler”. The series, which will soon return to the screen, also features “Wir sind Kaiser” star Robert Palfrader and former Hektiker member Florian Scheuba. Werner Sobotka directs “Wir Staatskünstler” while Petra Dometsberger is in charge of “Out of the Dark”.

One of the more unusual projects of Maurer – who co-wrote the script for “Wie man leben soll” by David Schalko – is “Maurer in der Wachau” which takes Maurer and his fans to the world-famous winemaking region in Lower Austria. His performances at the Kabarett Niedermair are also a return to a familiar setting for Maurer as he competed at a talent competition there back in 1988. Only one year later, Maurer presented his first programme, “Unterm Farkas hätt’s des net geben”.

The Kabarett Niedermair (www.niedermair.at) has been one of the best places for stage entertainment in the Austrian capital for many years. Its December bill includes performances by Paul Pizzeria, Hosea Ratschiller, Christian Hölbling a.k.a. Helfried and Mike Supancic (“Traumschiff Supancic”). Furthermore, Manuel Rubey and Thomas Stipsits are at the ready to perform their new programme “Triest” at the Kabarett Niedermair. Stipsits will also hit the stage to play “Bauernschach”, his current solo show.

Apart from first-class Austrian Kabarett, stage productions for kids will be on in December. “Mama Muh und die Krähe” is based on stories by Jujja Wieslander. The play tells the adventures of a rebellious cow. Bernhard Fibich, a popular singer and composer, will perform new Christmas songs for children as the celebration is approaching. Another part of the playbill young and old are looking forward to are the performances of “Frau Holle” (Mother Hulda) and “Brüderchen und Schwesterchen” (Brother and Sister), two well-known fairytales.

Book look: Jean Ziegler

Jean Ziegler has never shied away from clashing with the world’s most influential movers and shakers. In his bestsellers, the Swiss sociologist attacked reckless politicians, greedy businesspeople and the heads of inefficient institutions. Ziegler fought several legal battles due to his daring claims. He told profil, an Austrian magazine, about the consequences this had on his personal situation: “I have debts of 6.6 million (Swiss) francs.”

Now the 78-year-old – who was the United Nations’ (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for many years – wrote a book about “mass destruction” in developing countries. In “Destruction massive: Géopolitique de la faim” (Wir lassen sie verhungern. Die Massenvernichtung in der Dritten Welt), Ziegler blames the world’s leading food manufacturers for being mainly responsible for the dismal situation of millions of people in poor countries. However, he also points the finger at lawmakers – and us, the consumers. “The companies are the main culprits and we are their accomplices. We must stand up and force our governments to control the businesses,” he told profil.

Ziegler explained it was of great importance for the fight against famines to ban child labour and to ensure that fair wages were paid to workers in developing countries. Speaking to profil, he stressed: “Stock market speculation with food and agricultural fuels must be prohibited.” Ziegler – who labelled food firms as “cold monsters” and “pirates” – added: “Every human dying from hunger is a singular catastrophe.”

While his critics brand Ziegler a populist, he defended his rhetoric and writing style. “A book has to be a weapon for the revolt of conscience,” he told Der Standard, a Viennese newspaper. In his unique manner of bluntly speaking his mind, Ziegler concluded: “We are living under global dictatorship of finance oligarchs who have more power than any emperor or the Pope ever had.”

Speaking to the Kurier, the author of “La Suisse, l’or et les morts” (The Swiss, the Gold, and the Dead; Die Schweiz, das Gold und die Toten) said it was a fact that each case of a child dying from undernourishment was murder. Ziegler also warned from thinking that petrol produced from agricultural products such as corn was the answer to the question of how to reduce carbon emissions.

Wir lassen sie verhungern. Die Massenvernichtung in der Dritten Welt
By Jean Ziegler
Published by C. Bertelsmann (www.cbertelsmann.de)

TAG’s tactics: cross-border cooperation

The eagerly awaited premiere of a Wiener Wortstaetten / ) partnership play is approaching.

“Kill Hill” starring Clemens Berndorff, Eva Klemt, Alexander Braunshör, Karin Yoko Jochum and Erol Ünsalan comes just days after “Bentley fahren”, an excellent two-person satire was performed at the TAG to unanimous critical acclaim.

Theatres based in Vienna, Czech capital Prague and Bratislava, the federal capital of Slovakia, are involved in the making of “Kill Hill”. The TAG premiere of the play will take place on 7 November. The play will be staged on another nine nights throughout next month. “Kill Hill” was created as part of the “Generation Icons in (Central) Europe” and subsidised by European Commission funds. The TAG’s homepage, http://www.dastag.at, offers detailed information on performance dates and ticket availability.

Earlier this month, Austrian singer-songwriter Bernhard Eder played a concert at the TAG which is headed by Margit Mezgolich, one of its co-founders, since 2009. TAG programme planners explained that Eder’s gig was just the first in a series of musical events set to take place at the theatre this season.

Another essential part of the TAG’s playbill is “Sport vort Ort”, a witty improvisation theatre experiment. The next performances of the play – which has been drawing the crowds for six years – are scheduled for this Sunday (21 October) and 25 November. “Hamlet Sein”, a TAG success story from the previous season, completes the small theatre’s performance portfolio.

US theatre luminary’s masterpiece to be staged in Vienna

A playful comedy will very soon shake up Vienna’s English Theatre.

From 5 November, “Lend me a Tenor” written by American playwright Ken Ludwig in 1989 will be on at the theatre which is considered as one of the finest places for English-language drama performances in Central Europe.

The tradition-rich theatre located in Josefstadt district had a great start into the season with Frank Higgins’ “Black Pearl Sings”. Now fans of first-class stage drama are looking forward to the upcoming production which has been praised as “remarkable” and “uproarious” by critics in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Vienna’s English Theatre will start into the new year with “The Women in Black”, a spine-chilling thriller by Stephen Mallatratt and Susan Hill before staging A.R. Gurney’s “Black Tie” in March and April.

Visit http://www.englishtheatre.at, the official website of the theatre founded in 1963 for plot synopses, ticket information and more about the possibility to acquire gift vouchers.