The Portrait is an impressive and breathtaking novel about a young woman whose outstanding artistic talent is uncannily exploited by a famous art collector.
Helen, a young painter, is on her way to an unknown city. Through the window of the plane, she gazes at the unfamiliar places below: somewhere down there is the house that she is going to spend the next three months in, invited by a well-known and rich art collector.
She is supposed to portray him. One condition of their contract is that she is not allowed to leave his property during her stay. Whilst the portrait progresses, Helen's feeling of unease increases. The huge villa is deserted. The employees give her the cold shoulder. Her trips into the wide, park-like estate show her that something strange must be going on. The initial idyll turns into a disaster. Her host controls her and regards her as his personal trophy. She finds out that he once supported a young artist, who subsequently committed suicide. When she tries to escape, the collector knowingly prevents her getaway. However, in the end, Helen manages to save herself.
Zoë Jenny was born in Basel in 1974 and spent parts of her childhood in Greece and Ticino. Her first novel, »The Pollen Room« (FVA 1997), was a global bestseller and has been translated into 27 languages. Following this success, Zoë Jenny was invited to give readings and talks at schools and universities in Japan, China and the U.S. She has lived in New York, Berlin and London, and currently resides in Austria. She has published two more novels – »The Call of the Conch Shell« (FVA 2000) and »The Portrait« (FVA 2007). »Spätestens morgen« is her first short story collection.
Bittersweet tales by the author of the »Pollen Room«
These characters may appear fragile, but they demonstrate unexpected strength. The ground trembles beneath their feet, but they do not fall: they strike out in moments of danger, and escape their cages as soon as they feel the wind beneath their wings.
Ginza, for example, who asserts her independence by sharing a tiny flat with friends and working as a tourist guide in the vibrant, overwhelming megacity of Shangai. Or Sophie, a shy woman in her fifties, whose headstrong daughter Clarice brings her photographer boyfriend on a visit to the family’s summer cottage. It comes as a surprise when Sophie suddenly blossoms under the camera’s gaze, upsetting the family balance.
Mike, a young stepfather to two girls, is quietly fighting for recognition. His wife has very clear ideas about how her daughters should be raised: she only buys organic food, and throws out any clothes made of polyester. Mike secretly takes his stepdaughters to an ice cream parlour, in a battle for life’s sweetness that he can never hope to win. In another story, young Elena, watching a black condor crane his skinny, vulnerable neck, as he struggles to fly inside his cage, is reminded of her elopement.
Beneath each of Zoë Jenny’s soft sentences lie darkness and profundity, pervading them with a subtle melancholy. Fear of loss and the awareness of vulnerability resonate just below the surface, and we sense that the characters in her stories are deeply troubled - but their power should not be underestimated. Zoë Jenny captivates the reader with these haunting, bittersweet tales.
»It was too late, he had already let him share his thoughts. He could not get away from them, they created an unrest in him, made something deep inside him move, like a surgically precise surface damage and the echo of a pain; an echo that grew louder in the emptiness of the house and forced him to listen, amid silence, effective as the pause of a symphony.«
As the head of Vienna’s Astronomy Institute, Marty's life revolves around the vastness of the universe. He gladly allows it to push the reality of his own life aside; the fact that his wife Marlene is already secretly making completely different plans for the future, and that his daughter is beginning to question her gender, remains hidden from him. At a conference he meets the psychoanalyst Steindorfer, who asks him why it is man actually knows more about distant planets than about his own consciousness, and who then gives him a manuscript he has been writing, the reading of which deeply disturbs Marty.
Zoë Jenny's long-awaited new novel is brimming with an unsettling atmosphere. The silent, distant stars of the galaxy seem at great odds with the ominous and ever-more-rapidly unfolding events on Earth. Jenny writes of artificial intelligence and the question of what consciousness is; of gender reassignment, personal freedom, a lack of alternatives, climate crisis, light pollution, and more, moving along the edges of a recognizable reality in the midst of our stellar chaos.
»Zoë Jenny offers up strong, poetic images like wondrous, melancholic Instagram photos. She is undoubtedly a master of the short form.« MISSY MAGAZINE on »Latest Tomorrow« (»Spätestens morgen«)
»Omission is an art, and Zoë Jenny masters it in these terse, precisely condensed stories. Her narration is casual, stylistically appropriate, and practically perfect. The tone is simple, matter-of-fact and it touches and resonates.« SRF 2 on »Latest Tomorrow« (»Spätestens morgen«)
Zoë Jenny was born in Basel in 1974. Her first novel »The Pollen Room« (»Das Blütenstaubzimmer«, FVA, 1997) was a global bestseller translated into 27 languages, and awarded the 3sat scholarship, the Jürgen Ponto Foundation Literature Prize, and the aspekte Literature Prize. Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt also published her novels »Der Ruf des Muschelhorns« (2000) and »Das Portrait« (2007), as well as her short stories »Spätestens morgen« (2013). She lives near Vienna.
»No punk she knew would have tolerated that. Never. There had been a code of honor in the scene, despite everything. Red lines uncrossed. Jackass and Butt-Head: always. Nazis and child molesters: never.«
A group of aging punks get caught up in their past – a fast-paced rocking-rollercoaster of a novel, accompanied by the soundtrack of a vibrant youth movement
The smell of stage smoke and sweat, booming bass, glaring neon lights and squatted houses – Bey misses all of that deeply. Before the birth of her son, the former bassist of an avant-garde punk band couldn’t have imagined living a traditional, bourgeois life – now she’s stuck on the outskirts of Amsterdam, surrounded by well-to-do mothers and no late-adolescent excesses in sight. Suddenly, the arrival of a chalk-white envelope throws her daily routine out of step: her ex-boyfriend Iggy has died. Bey sets off to Berlin for the funeral, where she finds an old audio recording among Iggy’s belongings that makes her doubt the circumstances of his death. Her investigations are met with resistance from the rest of the old punks who knew him, but lead nonetheless to incriminating evidence. When Karina, Bey’s missing nemesis, unexpectedly appears on the scene, a breathless race for cassette tape begins and a monstrous truth is revealed that shatters everything Bey and her old friends ever believed.
Yasmin Sibai’s debut novel takes place in the dark basement clubs of the nineties and secret hacker salons of the two-thousands; it roams through gentrified urban landscapes and penetrates into the black heart of a lively subculture, venting its anger with hard beats towards post-war conservatism, capitalism and commerce. In »PUNKED«, Sibai lets a utopia implode and puts her protagonist on the trail of a criminal case that sheds new light on her punk past.
Yasmin Sibai was born in northern Germany in 1976 and has since moved thirty-two times. In the eighties and nineties of the last millennium she was the singer and frontwoman of a rather insignificant avant-garde punk band, with whom she toured the smallest bars and clubs in the world for months. She has lived in Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, New York and Amsterdam, worked as an organic farmer, truck driver, freelance architect, DJane and artist. She lives with her family in Frankfurt a/M and has no plans to move in the near future.
»Stauffer’s texts do not shy away from the ›sharp pains‹ that a comprehensive look at the splendor and misery of human existence brings. In addition to their formal range, the unpredictability of these texts is fascinating. Time after time, it hits its mark: straight into the heart.« From the jury's statement of the Manuscript Advancement Award.
»I live in this text, floating from line to line, playing the dead woman. Only here in this sea can I swim, but now it freezes over on all sides.«
Only in appearance do the records oscillate between reality and dreams in their outer chronology, which begins in November 2020 in Vienna. In fact, the text immediately emancipates itself, plunging deeper into a elaborate clockwork whose hands stand still: We accompany the narrator on walks through the deserted Prater neighborhood, and stroll through the nocturnal, closed city, while her precise observations alternate small sharp sequences with lyrical passages. In what paradise can we observe ourselves living today, and what will come in the summer? Witty and cheeky, both sad and comforting, Verena Stauffer reveals an »I« as a center in a time when the longing for touch grows as people are banished to their rooms. She forms a protocol of the »madness that now reveals all the flaws in the entire construction of society,« and offers a testimony to the ways poetry and imagination can offer a lifeline. Verena Stauffer takes on a poetic and humorously biting form as she describes everyday life in times of pandemic.
Verena Stauffer was born in 1978 in Kirchdorf an der Krems in Austria. Her her debut novel Orchis (2018) was nominated for the Alpha Literary Prize, the Independents’ Hotlist, and the Blogger Debut Prize. Most recently her poetry collection Ousia was published by Kookbooks and nominated for the Austrian Book Prize. She is living in Vienna.
BDI Literature Prize of the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy 2016
Sold to: Egypt (Mahrousa)
Holle is an artist from Berlin. She takes pictures of cities and empty spaces to capture their hidden energy. She spends several months in Istanbul, an achingly beautiful city she tries to understand in a new way, leaving behind her dividing terms like occident and orient. But then the encounter with Christoph Wanka causes her to sway. Although Wanka represents everything Holle is opposed to in her life and art, this silky and successful businessman fascinates her. When Wanka offers to finance her next project in Mumbai, Holle, in an endless trial of strength, has to question her whole life script and concept of art. Back in Istanbul, she would love nothing better than to get lost in the labyrinthine body of the city. When the Gezi Park demonstrations begin and the whole city is in turmoil, it seems the perfect opportunity ...
»The Endless City« tells the story of two women in two adventurous cities, Istanbul and Mumbai, and their search for an existence in accordance with their values. An eclectic and outstanding novel about art, power and the fragile construction of identity.
Ulla Lenze, born in Mönchengladbach in 1973, studied music and philosophy in Cologne. In 2003 her debut novel »Schwester und Bruder« was awarded the Ernst Willner Prize at the Klagenfurt Bachmann Competition, the Jürgen Ponto Prize for best debut novel, and Cologne’s Rolf Dieter Brinkmann Scholarship. She lived as a writer-in-residence in Mumbai, Venice and Istanbul, travels have taken her to Libya, Syria and Iran. Her novel »The Small Remains of Death« was published by Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt in 2012.
Had anyone told him a few years ago that he would end up in Hannover-Langenhagen, Jesse Bronske would not have believed them. Neither would he have trusted anyone who suggested that Mona, who works at the cash register in the supermarket inside of which Jesse runs a bar called »Klaus Meine«, would become the woman by his side. From the moment he is born, Jesse's aspirations to be extraordinary are doomed to fail: his identical twin Aaron looks so much like him that not even their father can tell the two boys apart. Thus Jesse grows up the exact copy of his older brother in Hamburg-Rahlstedt where their father – the owner of a snack stand and an Elvis impersonator – slowly but surely turns the house into an Elvis museum. Jesse moves to Langenhagen in order to leave all of that behind and begin a new life. But despite his relationship with Mona and the (possibly) imaginary pen pal Klaus Meine, Jesse cannot let go of the fear of being interchangeable. One day, while incessant rain slowly makes its way into the house and threatens to flood everything, Jesse notices a figure in a nearby cornfield. All of the sudden he is certain: Aaron has returned to his life in order to replace him. However, Jesse is prepared...
SUPERBUHEI is a literary-psychological thriller a sub-urban novel, a viscous romantic comedy, a cross between Sven Regener’s Herr Lehmann, Frank Schulz’ Onno Viets and Fight Club. Sven Amtsberg's furious and long-awaited debut novel takes us into previously unknown realms of reading pleasure. His unique sound carries the reader from one page to the next and his tone is just as sharp as his wit.
Sven Amtsberg was born in 1972 and lives in Hamburg. He is a writer and he hosts and presents for a diverse array of entertainment formats. In 2001 and 2008, he received a prize for promising young writers from the city of Hamburg, while in 2011 he was granted a work scholarship by the federal state Schleswig-Holstein. His latest publications include: »The Truth About Germany« (2011), »111 Reasons to Love the FC St. Pauli« (2013) as well as »Paranormal Phenomena – 20 Stories that Are Almost True.« (2015). »SUPERBUHEI«, is his debut as a novelist.
»An adolescent journey during the year 1989: Susanne Gregor’s supremely readable novel gives readers an exceptional insight into an important chapter of recent European history« New Books in German
Miša, Rita and Slavka have been friends for as long as they can remember. They all live in the same house in the city of Žilina: Miša, the 14-year-old narrator, and her family in the middle, Rita, also 14, in the apartment above, and Slavka in the apartment underneath. They confide their secrets in one another and speak about their first loves. And yet, they could scarcely be more different. Rita is a staunch Youth Pioneer, which makes her parents’ confidential plan to escape to Austria seem all the more scandalous. Rita is outraged: she doesn’t want to end up like Slavka whose father absconded to Sweden 10 years ago. Slavka cares little for politics. Rather, she is interested in the new history teacher, Comrade Baník, and in gymnastics, her real passion. Miša is the most sensitive of the three. Her love is literature, which nobody – least of all her father – can really understand. Miša has the feeling that life will always continue on in the same manner. The opposite is the case: It is 1989 and nothing will ever be as it was.
Three friends and their families experience the year before the collapse of the Socialist regime in Slovakia. Opportunism or rebellion; adaption or revolt – the girls on the brink of adulthood and their parents, each face socialism’s decline in their own way.
In precise, elegant language Susanne Gregor insightfully explores the external and internal worlds of the three young friends. By means of small shifts, she allows huge transformations to become tangible and with a steady hand, leads the reader through the seasons of the year 1989. It is »The Last Red Year.«
Susanne Gregor, born in 1981 in Žilina (Czechoslovakia), moved with her family to Austria in 1990. Since 2005, Gregor lives in Vienna where she teaches German as a foreign language. In 2009, she received the ›Hohenemser Literaturpreis‹ Advancement Award and the ›exil-literaturpreis‹ in 2010. Her debut novel »No Place of One’s Own« was published in 2011, the novel »Territories« in 2015 and the short story collection »Under Water« in 2018.
Jürgen Ponto Prize for Best Debut 2015
18-year-old Marie is deeply disappointed by life. She feels not belonging to the world. She loathes the evenings with her housemates, and can’t stand the advice that Sarah, the well-meaning medical attendant, tries to offer. Psychiatric hospital was even worse: she never wants to go there again, and this is the only reason she accepts the deal offered to her by her therapist, Willi. He promises to keep her out of medical institutions if she gives her word that she will attend every single one of her therapy sessions with him. Above all, she also has to promise that she won’t contemplate suicide for at least one year. On one of her visits to Willi’s office Marie meets Emanuel. Despite her conviction that people her own age are idiots, and the concern that Emanuel may be even more damaged than she is, she agrees to go on a date. They become involved and Marie mentions her desire to end her life. They make an outrageous agreement – but the results are quite different from what either of them expect ...
Sandra Weihs, born in Klagenfurt in 1983, lives in Upper Austria and Vienna. She studied social work, and works with deprived children, adolescents and families. Her debut novel, »Das grenzenlose Und« (»The Limitless And«), was awarded the 2015 literary prize of the Jürgen Ponto Foundation.
Mara, a writer, has been returning to the same little Croatian island for years now. She loves its smell – of sun, sea, salt and rosemary – and the caprices of its changing winds. But this summer is different. The wind bora is stormier than usual, and the equilibrium of Mara’s life has also been disturbed. One morning Andrej arrives on the island, a photographer who travels restlessly around the world. Like so many people from the island, his parents fled Tito’s dictatorship in the 1960s, emigrating to Hoboken, New Jersey. Mara and Andrej become close, but as Mara probes deeper and deeper into Andrej’s family story of rootlessness and yearning for a sense of home, both are forced to make a decision.
In high-resolution images, Ruth Cerha tells of two seekers who meet and find themselves unexpectedly confronted with the possibility of great love. »Bora. A Story of the Wind« is a novel of wild beauty: it examines, with great sensitivity, the risks of true closeness, and what it means to feel at home.
Ruth Cerha, born in Vienna in 1963, studied psychology and was a musician and composer with a number of bands before starting to write prose in 2004. Following her short story collection, »The Song of the Wheels on the Rails« (2007), and her novels »Head Out of the Clouds« (2010) and »One-Tenth Brothers« (2012), Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt published her novel »Bora. A Story of the Wind« (2015), for which she was awarded the Austrian State Scholarship for Literature.
In his early forties, Dave is married, a father of three children and living in Vienna. While his older son Max gets lost in the virtual worlds of computer games, smokes marihuana and neglects school, his daughter becomes ever more alienated from him as she hits puberty. His marriage is also falling apart. Dave feels isolated, he is haunted by nightmares and he worries about his youngest who spends his nights dreaming about a robot friend on an alien planet. Trying to understand his own dream world, Dave seeks the advice of a therapist. In the process, he becomes familiar with the concept of lucid dreaming and begins to experiment with this technique. His reality becomes more and more porous and the dream images become increasingly overwhelming. They take him back into his childhood, which he spent in New York City in the 1970s, and he immerses deeper and deeper into his parent’s stories. His father, with whom he has a difficult relationship, was an American businessman while his mother’s parents had to flee from the Nazis. The story that begins to emerge from these excursions becomes ever more puzzling, so Dave decides to talk to his only remaining relative in New York. It is this relative who reveals a well-kept family secret that ends up shedding a completely new light on his dreams.
Ruth Cerha’s hero of »Dream Rocket« follows the traces that his parent’s lives have left in his own by exploring the fascinating possibilities of dreams – enabling the dreamer to craft a bridge between the conscious and the subconscious. It is this bridge that provides him with the key to a chapter of his family history that was kept in the dark for so long.
Ruth Cerha, born in Vienna in 1963, studied psychology and was a musician and composer with a number of bands before starting to write prose in 2004. Following her novels »Head Out of the Clouds« (2010) and »One-Tenth Brothers« (2012 / 2018 FVA), Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt published »Bora. A Story of the Wind« (2015), for which she was awarded the Austrian State Scholarship for Literature.
Nora Bossong in »Herabout« draws vivid portraits for a bizarre intimate play, which is resolved sparingly, but generates a strong pull towards the reader. Bossong writes in a laconic tone that is – in a unique and fortunate way – unlike the suspense it creates.
Nora Bossong was born in 1982 in Bremen and now lives in Berlin. She has been awarded several prizes and scholarships. An extract from »Hereabout« has been awarded the Leipzig Literary Scholarship and a Scholarship of the Jürgen-Ponto-Foundation. »Herabout« has been her first novel published by FVA, followed by »Weber's Record«.