Literatur/Performance, Musik/Music

Literature & Music: BARBARA FRISCHMUTH

Barbara Frischmuth & Juan Carlos Sungurlian

Barbara Frischmuth is reading.

Musical accompanied by Juan Carlos Sungurlian (Oud).

The great Austrian author BARBARA FRISCHMUTH celebrates her 80th birthday this year and brings out 2 new books.

The author is deeply rooted in her hometown, where she has been living again for over two decades. Her literary gardening books tell us that she is also closely connected with nature. Her new book “NATURE and the Attempts to Approach it with Language” is different. Nature and culture cannot be separated from each other. They constantly intertwine, whether visibly or invisibly, occasionally without harmonising. Since time immemorial, man has tried to tame nature, to subdue it. The more spectacularly he succeeds, the less he thinks about how dependent he still is on it. This is most evident in the language we use to try to name and describe nature, whether narrative, poetic, factual or scientific. In her essay, Barbara Frischmuth attempts to show how nature is spoken of in everyday life, literature, culture and science. To underestimate nature would be life-threatening. To appreciate it, even to love it, is a humane realisation. Residenzverlag, 2021

In her new collection of stories “Dein Schatten tanzt in der Küche” (Your Shadow Dances in the Kitchen), Barbara Frischmuth shows herself to be a master of her craft. With a light hand, fantastic writing flow and a good dash of humour, the multi-award-winning Styrian author takes us on five written journeys. They are as short as the weekend trip to St. Somewhere. Nevertheless, Frischmuth makes her characters shine in many colours.

We meet strong, self-determined women who do not let themselves be put off by (their) husbands and other disturbing influences. They are not superwomen like in a glossy magazine, but real women with a great appetite for life, no matter how hard it treats them. Until the – sometimes dramatic – end, Frischmuth’s heroines decide for themselves which course to take.

Amelie and Daniel are fellow actors from a long time ago. Both have been pushed into retirement, roles have long since ceased to exist. Amelie lost her family in a tragic incident, Daniel is stranded alone in the city.

Instead of feeling sorry for each other, the two celebrate their chance meeting after decades in a befittingly lavish manner – just like in his day. Death is shown the long nose. “I bequeath to the climate fund so that I don’t get too hot under the ground,” Amelie jokes exuberantly.

Darya came to the country as a refugee via several stopovers; she barely survived the journey across the sea in a rubber dinghy. She is very well educated, speaks fluent English, and German is not difficult for her either. She is considered well-integrated, but the thought of her family back home hurts and haunts her. Frischmuth works out this dichotomy with great empathy. A refugee’s fate, perhaps one of thousands, becomes tangible at a stroke.

Those looking for an ideal world will not find it in this volume. Loved ones fall ill or have accidents, promising relationships fail, advancing age takes its toll. Frischmuth shimmies thematically along real life, one might say. But the way she describes it shows great class.

“Dein Schatten tanzt in der Küche”. Aufbau-Verlag 2021, 224 pages

The dexterous musician JUAN CARLOS SUNGURLIAN will play his oud between the texts and inspire the breadth of thought that Barbara Frischmuth wisely, cheerfully and with humour calls for in her texts, which deal with people’s living conditions.


  • Please make reservations not later than 12 hours before the programme begins: or +43 316 262787. Observe Covid 19 measures!