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Among the Bieresch (Translation) (Hardcover) (Klaus Hoffer)
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Young Hans arrives with one suitcase in a squalid village on the eastern edge of the ‘Empire’, a surreal post-war Austria. His uncle has died, and the tradition of his people, the Bieresch, requires Hans to assume his place for the space of one year. In a series of encounters with the village’s tragicomic characters, their contradictory stories and ‘scriptures’, the reluctant Hans faces a world both familiar and alien. He is initiated into its bizarre customs and tangled relationships, its utopian yearnings, and the struggle between two mystical sects: the Histrions and the Monotomoi.
Among the Bieresch tells of culture shock as a state of being—and the creative potential of cultural friction. It revels in the gems found in the most oppressive cultural baggage, the infinite possibilities for assembling stories from them. In a playful masterstroke, the cabbalistic Bieresch ‘scriptures’ stem from Kafka, Borges, Vonnegut, Beckett, Flann O’Brien and a myriad of other writers whose voices merge with the historical reality of the Austro-Hungarian border region. It is that rare intertextual work that creates a world utterly its own.
First published in two parts in 1979 and 1983, Among the Bieresch was praised by critics, winning the Rauris Literature Prize and the Döblin Prize. Its one-volume reissue in 2007 was warmly received.