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Josef Winkler

Take the Blame, Father or Death Be Writ into My Heart

Josef Winkler
Foto: Josef Winkler
© Jerry Bauer

Born in Austria in 1953 and an author since 1982, Josef Winkler today lives in Klagenfurt.

»Josef Winkler is somebody who negotiates the frontiers and transforms his anxiety into desire by the act of writing, and with the risky balancing act on the brink of the abyss finds a firm equilibrium in the long term. He is not glorifying the other world […] but liberating the self in grand style. To this end, however, he initiates an unsettling process evoking matters previously suppressed, and by no means does he spare the reader in the process.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

Awards (selection):
Georg Büchner Prize 2008
Grand Austrian State Prize 2007
Franz Nabl Prize 2005
Premio Lateral 2005
Alfred Döblin Prize 2001
Prix André Gide 2000
Kranichsteiner Literaturpreis 1990
Anton Wildgans Prize 1980

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Czech Republic (Archa), Bulgaria (Black Flamingo)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Der Diwan)

The story of a collective concealment

»In my new novel Take the Blame, Father or Death Be Writ into My Heart, the skeleton, grown to gigantic proportions, of the Nazi criminal Odilo Globocnik grasps for the living and the dead with its limbs that lie scattered all over the fields in the entire Drau Valley and rebuilds the ›dwelling‹ of my village and my family home on top of the Sautratten, on top of his own damned bones.«

About

It was only a few years ago that Josef Winkler learned about the fact that his fellow Carinthian Odilo Globocnik, who had headed the »Aktion Reinhardt« and boasted about the mass murder of countless Jews with the words »Two million we got over and done with«, was buried on a community field in Winkler’s native village of Kamering after he had committed suicide by ingesting cyanide in May 1945 – in the »Sautratten«, where Winkler’s father and grandfather grew and harvested their crop.

In an angry marathon of words, the author exhumes the skeleton of the SS-mass murderer – and with the skeleton the history of Kamering after the war. The excavation and the renewed visitation of what is possibly the most written-about village of contemporary German literature reveal: the ground on which Kamering stands is poisoned. Take the Blame, Father brings up the painful subject of a decades-long collective concealment.

Praise

»The soil which produced this stirring book, its obsession and force of language, is in a literal sense the mass-murderer from Kärnten, Odilo Glabocnik ... And the generations which knew about it, and tossed a cloak of silence over the atrocities of the war... The way Josef Winkler is able to take hold of this material in language is carried by an unmistakable fury and, no less important, immense pain.« Der Tagesspiegel

»Using his brilliant power of language to the maximum, in his latest novel Josef Winkler frees himself from a traumatic memory.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»[In Take the Blame, Father or Death be Writ into My Heart] Josef Winkler focuses on the Nazi period and his home village, Kamering im Drautal. ... And in so doing has produced an intense book on the recent past and its repression.« ORF

»Josef Winkler is somebody who negotiates the frontiers and transforms his anxiety into desire by the act of writing, and with the risky balancing act on the brink of the abyss finds a firm equilibrium in the long term. He is not glorifying the other world […] but liberating the self in grand style. To this end, however, he initiates an unsettling process evoking matters previously suppressed, and by no means does he spare the reader in the process.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

» ... a painful reading experience of mesmerising linguistic beauty.« WDR 5

»It is truly incredible that while reading Take the Blame, Father there is no sense of oversaturation, but enrichment everywhere. The book’s temporal und historical basis brings a new colour to Winkler’s work; and his new book in turn brings a new colour into the literary process of working through blood and soil.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»In Take the Blame, Father the style is now more shy, more realistic, because the fact that reality is grotesque enough is a given ... Indeed, the undiminished autobiographical stories move towards the existentially preserved.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»With its sharp eloquence and autobiographical moments Winkler’s most recent book is impressive.« 20er – Tiroler Straßenzeitung

Other publications

Roppongi/Roppongi (2007)

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France (Verdier), Czech Republic (Archa), Bulgaria (Black Flamingo), Serbia (Leykam), Slovenia (Hermagoras/Mohorjeva)

Natura morta/Natura morta (2001)

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English world rights (Contra Mundum), Spanish world rights (Galaxia Gutenberg), Russia (AST Publishers), Arabic world rights (Le Fennec), France (Verdier), Italy (Forum Editrice Universitaria Udinese), Norway (Solum), Czech Republic (Archa), Bulgaria (Black Flamingo), Lithuania (Kitos Knygos), Croatia (Leykam), Bosnia (Vrijeme), Turkey (Pan), Ukraine (Knihy XXI)

Wenn es soweit ist/Wenn es soweit ist (1998)

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English world rights (Contra Mundum), Spanish world rights (Galaxia Gutenberg), France (Verdier), Czech Republic (Archa), Slovenia (Hermagoras)

Domra/Domra (1996)

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France (Verdier), Czech Republic (Archa), Macedonia (Ars Lamina)

Das Zöglingsheft des Jean Genet/Flowers for Jean Genet (1992)

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USA (Ariadne Press), France (Verdier), Czech Republic (Archa)

Friedhof der bitteren Orangen/The Graveyard of Bitter Oranges (1990)

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English world rights (Contra Mundum), Spanish world rights (Galaxia Gutenberg), Russia (AST Publishers), France (Verdier), Poland (Od Do), Czech Republic (Archa)

Der Leibeigene/Der Leibeigene (1987)

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USA (Ariadne), France (Verdier)

Die Verschleppung/Die Verschleppung (1983)

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France (Verdier), Japan (Dogakusha), Ukraine (Krytyka)