Gunther Geltinger

Fuel - Novel

(German title: Benzin)
ca. 377 pages
Gunther Geltinger
Foto: Gunther Geltinger
© Jürgen Bauer

Gunther Geltinger was born in 1974 in Erlenbach, and currently lives in Cologne. He studied script-writing and drama at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne.
His critically-acclaimed debut Mensch Engel was published in 2008, followed by his second novel Moor in 2013; Fuel is his third novel

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A gripping road trip through southern Africa

Meticulously researched, atmospherically told


This isn’t the first time Alexander and Vinz have taken a trip together because their relationship has reached a crisis point. The road trip through South Africa is meant to give them clarity, and Vinz, the writer, hopes to get a new idea for a novel. Careening past street markets, Chicken Inns and hitchhikers, the two Germans make their way through a country where wealth and poverty collide, where homosexuality is taboo, and where they must face up to the part they too play in the general obliviousness of the white tourist.

After running into a young man, they are dragged ever deeper into contradictions: on the one hand, they feel responsible towards him and pay him when he offers to be their guide. On the other, their new companion increases the tension between them, and Vinz begins to fear more and more for their own safety. When he finally comes upon an idea for his novel that will take him to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, all three toss their original plans to the wind.

With Fuel Gunther Geltinger articulately and hauntingly depicts what it means for one’s own world to fall apart. He spells out the inner turmoil of his figures in twenty-six chapters, from A to Z, while conjuring up atmospheric images that, little by little, lead to a larger whole – a story about stereotypes and sovereignty, trust and betrayal.

»As long as he had been able to think his life had revolved around the touch that would save him, it was the nucleus of his unhappiness and the motor of his writing, and those people he incorporated into himself in the process were the fuel he consumed at great speed.« Gunther Geltinger


»The world of Fuel is hopeless, but it is crafted brilliantly.« Christoph Schröder, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»The powerful flow of words in this text shows the author’s sense for combining form and content. How faraway things are brought close, and not just through digital technology, […] is what this novel, convincing in its aspirations, is about.« Carsten Otte, taz. die tageszeitung

»Gunther Geltinger succeeds in turning the most mundane observations into dynamic punchlines. […] [There are many] sentences one would like to cut out and put on display. An impulse that you rarely get when reading novels. With this one, you are unable and unwilling to shake it off.« Tomasz Kurianowicz, DIE ZEIT

»With Fuel, Gunther Geltinger has written a disturbing, a captivating novel. […] And the way the eponymous fuel is used, fueling in a good and a murderous sense, bears testimony to a confident author.« Martin Oehlen, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Fuel is an existential novel, disturbing, gripping, pervaded by brutality and desire, shaped by profound humaneness. And it’s a linguistic masterpiece. A great book written by an important author.« Dirk Kruse, BR

»Geltinger’s narration is rich in detail, well-researched and exciting like a crime novel, it sustains its construction and is interspersed with ironic remarks on the situation of an author in the German literary scene.« Detlef Grumbach, SISSY Mag

»In his third novel Fuel, Gunther Geltinger talks mercilessly about Africa and the ambition of literature at the same time: the search for an attitude towards existential questions – as complex, as honest, and as brilliant as it is moving.« Bettina Hesse, WDR

»Fuel presents the accelerating self-aggrandizement of a human race that has placed technological progress between itself and its nature and that has, in order to do so, abused its most human of qualities, language, as a categorizing and excluding regulatory force.« Verena Scheithauer, Stadtrevue Köln

»Gunther Geltinger has written an exciting book about the search for truth and reality. Without mercy, he sends his protagonist Vinz on a journey to the limits of identity, or at least of what we believe identity is.« domradio.de

»A text that virtually vibrates with internal tension.« SWR2

»With Fuel, [Geltinger] has produced a novel that stands out sublimely from the calm seas of mainstream literature.« Oberösterreichische Nachrichten

»With an ear perfectly tuned to registering emotional shade and recognizing the involuntary episodes of self-deception within our emotional and psychological landscapes, Geltinger manages to tell a tale that would not have itself be told. That is something that only great literature can do.« DIE ZEIT on Moor

»Geltinger risks everything and wins.« KulturSPIEGEL

Other publications

Moor/Moor (2013)

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