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Vienna

by Eva Menasse

A complicated family history, in novel form, narrated by an anonymous family member. The mixed Austrian - German - Jewish -Christian culture and the time-frame, Second World War to the present, make this family history particularly colourful. The incidents are not related in strictly chronological order and there is a huge cast of characters, many of whom are not given names - both which make this a challenging read. But it’s definitely worth perservering because although the story covers an unhappy period in Austrian history, it is, on balance, a cheerful book.

Extract

My father's birth was a precipitate delivery. He and a fur coat were sacrificed to my grandmother's passion for bridge, since although her labour pains were beginning she insisted on finishing the game. Except for a single dramatic occasion, my grandmother has finished every game she ever played in her life; breaking off in the middle of a game was unthinkable. Consequently she almost missed my father's birth as she sat playing cards. Or rather, that was why my father almost came into the world under a green baize card table, which would in fact have suited his character and way of life pretty well.
Translated by Anthea Bell

Parallels

Last Waltz in Vienna by George Clare
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
 

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