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The Day My Grandfather Was a Hero

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780857059512

Price: £12.99

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“This is a beautiful book, a masterpiece of brevity and depth” New European

“This tense novella builds to a final reckoning” The Times

In October 1944, a thirteen-year-old girl arrives in a tiny farming community in Lower Austria, at some distance from the main theatre of war. She remembers very little about how she got there, it seems she has suffered trauma from bombardment. One night a few months later, a young, emaciated Russian appears, a deserter from forced labour in the east. He has nothing with him but a canvas roll, which he guards like a hawk. Their burgeoning friendship is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a group of Wehrmacht soldiers in retreat, who commandeer the farm.

Paulus Hochgatterer’s intensely atmospheric, resonant novel is like a painting in itself, a beautiful observation of small shifts from apathy in a community not directly affected by the war, but exhausted by it nonetheless; individual acts of moral bravery which to some extent have the power to change the course of history.

Longlisted for the Austrian Book Prize 2017, this subtle, evocative novella will appeal to readers of Hubert Mingarelli’s A MEAL IN WINTER and Jenny Erpenbeck’s THE END OF DAYS.

Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch

Jamie Bulloch is the translator of novels by Timur Vermes, Steven Uhly, F. C. Delius, Daniela Krien, Jörg Fauser, Martin Suter, Roland Schimmelpfennig and Oliver Bottini. For his translation of Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast he was the winner of the Schlegel-Tieck Prize.

With the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union


Austria's answer to David Lynch
Hubert Winkerls, 3sat Kulturzeit
His novels unleash a force that is rarely felt in contemporary German-language literature
Rainer Moritz, Die Presse
His work conveys a heightened awareness of the fragility of what keeps our innermost souls in check
Felicitas von Lovenberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Hochgatterer's great art is to transform psychological confusion into a language of extreme clarity . . . This Austrian author writes with a sparseness that builds to a powerful crescendo before the dramatic finale.
Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Lean, incredibly vivid sentences ... the tension never lets up
Ulrich Weinzierl, Die Welt
Paulus Hochgatterer writes about life and the chasms that swallow you when you take the wrong path
Christine Westermann, WDR
The final days have been reported, filmed, sung and documented a hundred times, but rarely told as vividly as in Paulus Hochgatterer's new book . . . he narrates the last act of a drama in which life and future plans were reshuffled. This could be dismissed as hubris, were Hochgatterer not such a good writer.
This is a beautiful book, a masterpiece of brevity and depth. It's rinsed in unspoken despair but what its characters never lose, despite their agonies, despite their trauma, is hope . . . Translated beautifully from the German by Jamie Bulloch, could be his best work yet . . .
Charlie Connelly, New European
This tense novella builds to a final reckoning. Which facet of the human character will triumph - bravery, evil, or a just a sad, deadening apathy?
Antonia Senior, The Times