3.43 (185 ratings by Goodreads)
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Vienna is an acclaimed saga covering three generations of a partly-Jewish Viennese family. Although it progresses from the female narrator's father's birth to the end of his life, there is constant movement backwards and forwards in time, while each chapter tends to concentrate on one particular family member or group. Grandfather married out, to the sandy-haired beauty Frieda, and his sister Gustl married nice-but-dim 'Dolly' Konigsberger, the non-Jewish bank manager beloved for his malapropisms. Aunt Gustl's only son Nandl is in trouble with the police yet again for fraud. In wartime the narrator's father settles in England - near Luton, in fact - with his foster parents Tom and Annie, and develops a talent for football. His brother, only just young enough to qualify for the Kindertransport on which they arrived, is interned on the Isle of Man but later joins the army and fights in Burma. Their sister, beautiful blonde Katzi, will go to Canada and die of TB aged 21. After 1945, the action returns to post-war Vienna. The footballing father will become an Austrian international - the uncle goes into the import/export business and does well until he wastes his talents.
Character-led rather than plot-driven, Vienna is a panoramic and sparkling novel of family life in Austria and England. There are delightful vignettes of Vienna with its coffee-houses, bridge parties and tennis clubs; and vivid descriptions of wartime and post-war England. Vienna is arguably the most entertaining German novel since Das Parfum.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 154 x 238 x 36mm | 598.74g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0297851098
  • 9780297851097
  • 2,130,179

About Eva Menasse

Born 1970, Eva Menasse was a successful journalist on the Frankfurter Allgemeine, and now lives and works in Berlin as a freelance writer. This is her first novel. Anthea Bell
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Review quote

"For this story of a half-Jewish, half-German clan Eve Menasse eschews linear narrative in favour of tales about the different members that weave into one another in a manner characteristic of shared family remembrance. And what characters they are... the mixture is enjoyably leavened with black humour." -- RACHAEL HORE THE GUARDIAN "Vienna by Eva Menasse is a disputatious saga that tracks the trials and tribulations of a Jewish-Austrian family during the 20th century." THE OBSERVER "set in a vividly imagined bourgeois Vienna, with it's bridge parties, tennis clubs, and an everyday anti-Semitism that's shocking in its casualness." TIME OUT "a remarkable achievement... the rewards are many and various." -- BARRY FORSHAW THE INDEPENDENT "Just when you thought there was nothing new to write about the Jewish experience during the Second World War comes a novel that turns convention on its head... Menasse teases out this generational paradox in a clever novel full of gentle humour, unpredictable twists and memorable characters." DAILY TELEGRAPH "delightfully told... surprising, funny and tragic. a character-led story fully of sparkling vignettes" YORKSHIRE EVENING POST "Vienna's early sections show the diverse nature of this adventure for these forced migrants... Eva Menasse's tone is often comic, but her theme is serious." TLS "a droll but unsettling take on the city's monster shadowed history, told through the escapades of a saltily eccentric part-Jewish clan." -- BOYD TONKIN THE INDEPENDENT
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Back cover copy

isbn 10 - 0 297 85109 8
isbn 13 - 9 780297 851097
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Flap copy

From the very beginning - the birth of the narrator's father in the middle of a bridge party - the reader is plunged headlong into the world of Vienna, a novel crowded with voices, characters, tragedy and joy.

This is an account of the disintegration of history and identity in the twentieth century through the adventures of one family - half-Jewish Viennese, split apart by the Nazi invasion and sent out into the world. Dispensing with linear narrative, the story loops forwards and back to follow each member on their winding course. Their experiences encompass fraudsters, footballers, fools and fur coats as the narrative moves from Austria to London, from Canada to the battlefields of Burma.

This is a landmark European novel of impressive reach and power whose readership will spread as widely as the family whose story it tells. It introduces in Eva Menasse an intimate chronicler of human experience and an unashamedly gleeful storyteller. Her cast of entrancing characters and unexpected events show us imperceptibly the formation and disintegration of family history and identity.

£12.99 in UK only
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Rating details

185 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 18% (33)
4 29% (54)
3 37% (68)
2 11% (21)
1 5% (9)
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