Wishing On A Star

Complex issues of astronomy, religion and philosophy are debated, but a highly unusual friendship is at the heart of Christine Wunnicke’s latest novel.

“Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand” portrays the encounter of a Persian manufacturer of astronomic instruments with a German explorer tormented by malaria on a mystic island east of Bombay. Musa al-Lahuri saves the life of the young lad from Göttingen who never really wanted to go to Asia to document nature and custom.

There have been many favourable reviews of Wunnicke’s books in recent years. This historical novel, which takes her audience back into the 18th century, is certain to spark a few more.

Die Dame mit der bemalten Hand
By Christine Wunnicke
Published by Berenberg (www.berenberg-verlag.de)

Friends Will Be Friends

With its penchant for nostalgia and persistent championing of supporters’ interests, 11Freunde is still somewhat of a dark horse in mainstream publishing. Now a book documents how it all started.

Chief editor Philipp Köster reflects on teaming up with a mate in April 2000 to establish a monthly magazine. “Das große 11 Freunde Buch” features brilliant photographs, memorable articles such as the one on the 1999 Champions League final and insightful interviews with Pele and Lothar Matthäus.

Drastic attendance reductions are a reasonable measure in the current pandemic. But other recent developments in sports demonstrate that raking in cash is still considered their primary responsibility by top-flight clubs.

Some of Köster’s controversial editorials depict moneyed businessmen and their doings as the embodiment of evil. However, this magazine has made many valuable contributions ever since its launch. Let’s hope that 11Freunde stays alive during the crisis of the publishing industry that struck much sooner than Covid-19.

Das große 11 Freunde Buch
By Philipp Köster & Tim Jürgens
Published by Heyne (www.heyne.de)

Speed Kills

In the 1990s, Andreas Buck was one of the best Bundesliga wingers. A series of injuries and national team decision-makers’ stubbornness kept the pacy ex-VfB Stuttgart and Kaiserslautern star from being capped. He looks back with regret on that fact in “Turbo. Mein Wettlauf mit dem Fußballgeschäft”, the book on the soccer business he penned with sports journalist Johannes Ehrmann. But Buck is also straightforward about the hair-raising financial adventure that pushed him on the brink of bankruptcy.

Buck, a two-time Bundesliga champion, has seen it all. Controversial managers like Christoph Daum and Otto Rehhagel, a disproportional increase of wages and broadcasting fees, players taking over the dressing room. “Turbo. Mein Wettlauf mit dem Fußballgeschäft” is a no-holds-barred account on the constant pressure he felt as a player in the hostile atmosphere of top-flight football.

Turbo. Mein Wettlauf mit dem Fußballgeschäft
By Andreas Buck & Johannes Ehrmann
Published by Tropen (www.tropen.de)

Come and Sea

Gerhard Richter is nothing less than one of the most important contemporary German painters. Now a Viennese museum provides fascinating insights into his oeuvre.

The Bank Austria (BA) Kunstforum’s “Landschaft” (Landscape) underlines the strong influence of avant-garde photography and the large canvases of Emil Jakob Schindler, Caspar David Friedrich and Gerhard Brandl on the 88-year-old artist from Dresden.

Covid-19 restrictions will keep modern art enthusiasts from visiting this astonishing exhibition after Christmas. Curated by Lisa Ortner-Kreil and Hubertus Butin, “Landschaft” is a true gem with its variety of lesser-known paintings from private collections. But Richter’s almost sinister clouds and sea horizon canvases turn this exhibition into an invaluable experience.

For information on post-lockdown opening hours, guided tours and events, please visit http://www.bankaustria-kunstforum.at

The Christmas Bookshelf

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, a very special festive season is approaching. Reading some good books during the holidays might cheer us up a bit.

Who would have thought that words like “Gletscher” and “Kirche” have other origins but German? “Eingewanderte Wörter. Von Anorak bis Zombie” is the title of Matthias Heine’s carefully researched collection of more than 90 words. The author lists lots of astonishing facts on the different terms’ background – and fortunately avoids tiring scientific explanations.

“Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Die Geschichte eines Liedes” by Werner Thuswaldner is not just a book on the origin of the most famous traditional Christmas song in the world. The author of several novels, plays and children’s books has also managed to create a superb document of life in rural Austria around 200 years ago when the impoverished populace was in dire need of not just food but also some solace. Having been translated into 300 languages, “Silent Night” is today sung and performed all over the world.

“Ich nannte ihn Krawatte” is Milena Michiko Flasar’s most-acclaimed novel. Born in St. Pölten in Lower Austria, Flasar has received several awards. She contributed “Die Omama” to “29 Kurzgeschichten aus Wien”, a recently released free collection of Vienna-themed short stories. Adapted for the stage, “Ich nannte ihn Krawatte” has been performed in Berlin and Salzburg. The book was featured on the German Book Prize’s longlist in 2012.

Ich nannte ihn Krawatte
By Milena Michiko Flasar
Published by Wagenbach (www.wagenbach.de)

Eingewanderte Wörter. Von Anorak bis Zombie
By Matthias Heine
Published by Dumont (www.dumont-buchverlag.de)

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Die Geschichte eines Liedes
By Werner Thuswaldner
Published by Residenz Verlag (www.residenzverlag.at)

This is the modern way

A refurbished Viennese museum offers the opportunity to discover some of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

“The Essl Collection” features paintings by Arnulf Rainer, Elke Krystufek and Albert Oehlen as well as several photographs and sculptures and is now on display at the Albertina Modern. Located at the city centre’s Künstlerhaus, the gallery focuses on contemporary art from Austria and abroad.

The Künstlerhaus got an extensive makeover between 2017 and this year thanks to the generosity of Hans Peter Haselsteiner. The entrepreneur has also supported various refugee and children relief organisations throughout the past years.

The current exhibit might not be as comprehensive as some visitors expect it to be. Nevertheless, “The Essl Collection” does not disappoint as the brilliance of artists like Georg Baselitz and Alex Katz makes an instant impression.

Visit http://www.albertina.at/albertina-modern for information on opening hours, Covid-19 restrictions and ticket prices.

Pooling and Sharing

“I instantly had a crush on her. In fact, I still have,” says Senta Berger on her first encounter with Romy Schneider back in 1959.

Author Thilo Wydra’s conversations with the Austrian film and television legend on her friendship with Schneider are an essential element of his new book on the latter’s tempestuous relationship with French icon Alain Delon.

“Eine Liebe in Paris. Romy & Alain” pays tribute to Schneider’s immortal legacy as an actress but does not turn a blind eye on the sinister side: mediocre movies, venomous coverage by German papers, Delon’s affairs and Schneider’s addictions.

Schneider – who took the audacious step of leaving Austria at the age of 21 for France – first met Delon in 1958. “Christine” was the first of just three films co-starred by European cinema’s number-one glamour couple of the 1960s.

The shooting of “La Piscine” at the French Riviera in summer 1968 is probably the key chapter of the book. Filmed five years after Delon left Schneider, “La Piscine” is still considered as one of the most outstanding French movies of the 1960s.

Speaking with Wydra, award-winning German actor Mario Adorf revealed that Brigitte Bardot had initially been considered for the lead role before Delon pushed for Schneider. This is just one of many astonishing anecdotes that keep “Eine Liebe in Paris” from becoming just another sloppily-edited publication eyeing up the wallets of “Sissi” nostalgia enthusiasts.

Eine Liebe in Paris. Romy & Alain
By Thilo Wydra
Published by Heyne (www.heyne.de)