The Salzburg trauma

A young artist has turned an autobiographic essay by Thomas Bernhard into a captivating graphic novel. Lukas Kummer’s “Die Ursache” is based on a 1975 publication of the same name.

Kummer’s black and white drawings create a truly intense atmosphere dominated by the monotonous tasks of Bernhard and his Salzburg board school classmates. Students’ stomachs knotted in fear each time their sadistic teacher appeared. Bernhard spent many hours practising the violin to clear his head but that brought him only a semblance of happiness.

Bernhard – who went on to become one of the most celebrated but also contested Austrian authors of the 20th century – even contemplated suicide at that time as he felt as if this were the end of the road for him and life would only get worse where he was.

During and after the war – in which large parts of Salzburg were levelled to the ground in air raids – people found it extremely hard to make ends meet. Things did not improve for Bernhard either as malevolent behaviour displayed by supervisors and physical violence failed to stop after his boarding school was taken over by the church.

Kummer (“Die Verwerfung”, “Die Gotteskrieger”) did a brilliant job here as his sheets even strengthen Bernhard’s blunt recount of this horrifying time in this life.

Die Ursache
By Lukas Kummer
Published by Residenz Verlag (

Pic in Japan

The broad artistic spectrum of pre-modern Japan can be discovered at a Viennese gallery.

The Bank Austria Kunstforum’s “Faszination Japan” features outstanding artworks of early popular culture that influenced painters and architects all over the world. The imaginative and brilliantly staged pictorial inventions by Katsushika Hokusai and others are a celebration of the sea and the volcanic Mount Fuji which, according to Shinto faith, holds magical powers and is inhabited by gods.

Another significant subject of early Japanese art is love – from the pensive melancholy of heartbroken lovers to the doomed relationships between courtesans and young men.

The exhibition also reveals the strong impact of Japanese artists’ meticulous observation, idealising compositions and colour range especially on European painters of the early 20th century such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Claude Monet and Gustav Klimt.

“Faszination Japan” follows an acclaimed presentation of paintings, sculptures and photographs by Man Ray. From October 2020, a Gerhard Richter exhibition will take place at the museum situated in the city centre of Vienna.


Checking China

China is determined to overtake the United States in high-tech shortly after having made headway in numerous other sectors. The country with a population of 1.4 billion has become a strong and thriving economy – despite a recent slight slump in growth.

After having covered the Soviet Union, the United States and developments in Brussels for Austrian broadcasting corporation ORF, Raimund Löw settled in Beijing. His book “Weltmacht China” helps understanding what is happening in Asia right now. The experienced foreign correspondent took the opportunity to take a profound look on economic issues such as government interference in most relevant branches and sociological developments caused by the enforced working migration.

Löw’s wife Kerstin Witt-Löw has contributed short blog-like diary essays which tell from day to day challenges expats in China are confronted with. However, she also writes about the most memorable experiences travelling the country – from communication difficulties to extraordinary food and breathtaking monuments and nature.

Who will come out on top as the United States and China keep jostling for power? How did Xi Jinping manage to cement his position as undoubted leader for a lifetime? What are his policies on North Korea, Tibet and the intensifying trade war kicked off by Donald Trump? No one can say with certainty whether China’s economic rise is set to continue infinitely. But “Weltmacht China” is getting you as close as you can get to find out all you need to know about China in the 21st century.

Weltmacht China
By Raimund Löw and Kerstin Witt-Löw
Published by Residenz Verlag (

Rapid face Admira after EL ‘horror’

The pressure on Rapid and their new coach is mounting after a couple of humiliating defeats.

Rapid (pictured: midfielder Thomas Murg) lost away from home against Rangers in Dietmar Kühbauer’s first game in charge before somehow scrounging a win at home against Mattersburg. A devastating defeat in Hartberg in the Austrian Bundesliga followed.

Especially against Hartberg, Rapid’s back four behaved in appalling fashion. However, Rapid’s midfield failed to threaten any sort of fightback either. The 3-0 win for Hartberg was remarkable given the Styrian club’s modest resources.

Rapid supporters were immensely disappointed on Thursday night as Villareal disbursed a walloping for the ages. “We knew this was going to be a tough match but I’m shocked by the result and our horrific performance,” Kühbauer said after the 0-5 defeat.

Rapid face Admira – who achieved a goalless draw against Wolfsberger AC last week – in the 12th round in top-flight domestic football at the Allianz Stadion in Vienna at 2.30pm tomorrow.



Art & crime

Hans Holbein the Younger is undoubtedly Europe’s most significant 16th century artist. Active in Belgium, Italy and England, his oeuvre reflects political turmoil and religious conflicts of the era. Holbein’s paintings are on display in at the world’s most renowned galleries, including museums in London, Paris and Basel. King’s Painter to Henry VIII, Holbein excelled in portraying scientists, royals and influential citizens of his era but also created breathtakingly precise depictions of the Passion of Jesus. After writing about Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Caspar David Friedrich and numerous other famed artists, Norbert Wolf demonstrates once again his wide-ranging expertise with this book which is part of Taschen’s low-priced art series including publications on Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Francis Bacon and Jeff Koons.

By Norbert Wolf
Published by Taschen (

Emma Stein is a young and determined psychiatrist. During a conference in Berlin, Stein reveals her engagement in a controversial experiment. Just hours later, she gets drugged and raped. When she wakes up the next morning, Stein finds herself at a bus stop, her head shaved. Police doubt the psychiatrist’s claims as she names a hotel room number that does not exist in the five-star hotel where the heinous assault allegedly happened. The bitterness of vulnerability remains a weight Stein – whose unborn child died as a consequence of the vicious sex crime – keeps carrying around with her, desperately trying to live a normal life. But these hopes are soon turned to dust in this flawless page-turner by Sebastian Fitzek, one of Germany’s most successful novelists of the past few years. “Das Paket” is packed with jaw-dropping twists in the plot that will let you shiver with fear.

Das Paket
By Sebastian Fitzek
Published by Knaur (

Luther & language

He deeply believed in the need for reforms and had the temerity to confront those in charge at the church with his daring demands. Thanks to Martin Luther’s perseverance, the clergy underwent groundbreaking changes from the 16th century onwards. After publishing his 95 theses, Luther was accused of heresy by a catholic church which was totally convinced of its superiority: But the priest and philosophy professor kept campaigning for a clerical reform. On 170 pages, Johann Hinrich Claussen’s “Reformation. Die 95 wichtigsten Fragen” offers compact analysis of the most decisive developments initiated by the movement spearheaded by Luther. Claussen, a culture ambassador of the German protestant church, explains the role of Jean Calvin and other significant personalities of that era. He investigates how the schism affected the role of women and whether Luther’s attitude showed anti-Semitic tendencies.

Reformation. Die 95 wichtigsten Fragen
By Johann Hinrich Claussen
Published by C.H. Beck (

Linguistic obscurities have been a fringe pursuit for geeks for quite some time. But in recent years, numerous books on amusing aspects of colloquial German and related issues have hit the shelves – and the sales charts. Now Timo Grossenbacher, Robert Möller, Adrian Leemann and Stephan Elspaß present “Grüezi, Moin, Servus! Wie wir wo sprechen”, a not-so-comprehensive glance on the usage of German slang in Europe – where the language is spoken by an impressive 90 million. Based on the results of an online poll, the book reveals which colloquial expressions replace the standard German terms for pancakes, slippers, wallet and 21 other words. “Grüezi, Moin, Servus!” features information on origin and developments in usage from the monarch era to the reunification of Germany. Furthermore, there are maps considering not just Germany, Austria and Switzerland but also South Tyrol, Liechtenstein and eastern Belgium. The book is, without a doubt, interesting and entertaining. But at just over 170 pages, “Grüezi, Moin, Servus!” is doing not much more than giving a flavour of what is available.

Grüezi, Moin, Servus! Wie wir wo sprechen
By Adrian Leemann, Stephan Elspaß, Robert Möller and Timo Grossenbacher
Published by Rowohlt (

Burgenland barrier for crisis-stricken Rapid

Rapid bosses are confident about returning to relevance in Austrian football after installing a new coach.

Dietmar Kühbauer was named Rapid manager on Monday, just 48 hours after Rapid’s 0-2 defeat against his team, SKN St. Pölten. According to reports, the Hütteldorf side transferred 400,000 Euros to the Lower Austrian club to secure the services of the ex-Rapid star who always displayed unmatched confidence as a player.

Club officials argued there were forced to take action as not only results but also the rift between some supporters and coach Goran Djuricin deteriorated. Djuricin was eventually fired on Sunday night in the middle of a less-than-flattering season for Rapid who started out so well.

Burgenland side SV Mattersburg are the next adversary of Rapid (Allianz Stadion Vienna, Sunday 2.30pm) who lost 1-3 against Rangers in their second Europa League group tie on Thursday. Kühbauer – who captained Mattersburg, his hometown club, before retiring – deplored his new team’s physical weakness during the second half at Ibrox. He also appealed to act quicker when in possession of the ball as opponents on international level would not give you any time to think.



A not-so-glorious return

Bayern Munich were not going in the right direction when club bosses sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti in September 2017, just a few weeks after signing the renowned Italian. No significant progress was visible in the game of the mighty German team in the early stage of last season. But when they were trashed by Paris Saint-Germain, Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge decided to approach their old chum Jupp Heynckes.

The legendary Borussia Mönchengladbach goal machine won not just the league but also the DFB Cup and the Champions League trophy with Bayern as manager in 2013. Officially declaring his retirement, the former national team ace enjoyed living a quiet life on the countryside – until Hoeneß made that call in autumn of last year.

Relief flooded Bayern’s out-of-form key players when Heynckes got back on board. The experienced football expert had never been at a loss to know what to do in his remarkable career which features a Champions League title with Real Madrid in 1998 as well as several unforgettable victories with Mönchengladbach as a player. Heynckes’ return to Säbener Straße during the 2017/2018 season was already his fourth Bayern assignment as a coach. The star-studded team won the league by a wide margin but failed to bag any further trophies.

In “Jupp Heynckes & die Bayern. Eine Geschichte vom Siegen und Verlieren”, Detlev Vetten documents how the team recovered their confidence and strength. The author describes the indisputably positive impact of reinstalling Heynckes.

Unfortunately, wide stretches of the book are terribly bland. Vetten’s essays on supporters, the career of Ribery himself and conversations about winning and losing in football with his partner are surprisingly vacuous and uninspired. The book’s biographical elements are routine chores for an experienced writer like Vetten.

Given the broad spectrum of high-quality sports literature published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (“George Best. Der ungezähmte Fußballer” by Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling, “Fieberwahn. Wie der Fußball seine Basis verkauft”, by Christoph Ruf), soccer enthusiasts are in the right to demand more than this lacklustre composition.

Jupp Heynckes & die Bayern. Eine Geschichte vom Siegen und Verlieren
By Detlev Vetten
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (