Austria’s Literary Present
If one encounters names such as Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke, Marlene Streeruwitz, Robert Schindel, Robert Menasse, Josef Winkler, Michael Köhlmeier, Arno Geiger, Peter Turrini in the Austrian literary present, or a few years earlier Erich Fried, H. C. Artmann, Ingeborg Bachmann, Ernst Jandl, Friederike Mayröcker, or Thomas Bernhard, at first glance no particular changes seem to have occurred compared to the historical publishing situation. Many of the better-known Austrian authors are still published in Germany today because of the wider reach of German publishers. With Elfriede Jelinek and Peter Handke, there have also been two Austrian Nobel Prize winners in literature since 2004, following the Bulgarian-Austrian Nobel Prize winner in literature Elias Canetti, who has a British passport and lived in Zurich in 1981. At the same time, in contrast to the past, when Austrian authors were mainly published by German publishers and their plays were seen on Austrian stages, there is now a starting situation that is no longer divided between German publishing locations and Austrian performance venues. Austrian authors are performed equally on German and Austrian stages and publish just as much in Austrian as in German publishing houses. At the same time, Austrian publishing has become internationalized. And last but not least, the example set by the Association of German Writers for the self-organizing ability of Austrian authors has had such an effect that for many years the Austrian author Josef Haslinger was president of the German PEN Club and the Austrian author Kathrin Röggla has been vice president of the Academy of Arts in Berlin for several years. When it comes to greater market success, however, the path still leads to German publishers. In addition to Daniel Kehlmann, Thomas Glavinic, Anna Kim, Valerie Fritsch or Clemens J. Setz and many other authors, the presence of authors with a different language of origin is currently growing in Austria, among them Dimitré Dinev, Carolina Schutti, Michael Stavarič, Radek Knapp, Vladimir Vertlib or Didi Drobna, Barbi Marković and Julya Rabinowich, who came to Vienna from the Soviet Union at the age of seven and who, with her work as a writer, playwright, painter and simultaneous interpreter, also lives a new form of a genre-spanning self-understanding.
Many of them have started to work in the context of Wiener Wortstaetten, an intercultural author's theater project with authors living in Vienna whose native language is not German but who write in German. Another important point of contact in this context is the Exil Literature Awards and Edition Exil.