– The question of remembering is “be aware of the foe”. […] I don’t write my stories without asking myself “where do they go to?” – (Doron Rabinovici about authorial self-awareness)
On the evening of 30 May, I had the pleasure to welcome Austrian historian and writer Doron Rabinovici and Daniel Wildmann, lecturer at the Department of History at Queen Mary and Deputy Director of the Leo Baeck Institute London at the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre ‘Headquarters’ in Stewart House, where I’d invited them to join me in conversation about Doron’s new book “Andernorts” (engl. “Elsewhere”) which was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2012. [Click here to buy the German book. We’re eagerly awaiting the English translation by Tess Lewis! Click here to listen to Doron Rabinovici’s reading at the Austrian Cultural Forum on 24 May 2012].
“Andernorts” tells the story of Viennese university lecturer Ethan Rosen, a man caught between his Austrian and his diasporic Jewish identity, who is confronted with his nemesis in the shape of fellow lecturer Rudi Klausinger, when Ethan unfavourably reviews a newspaper article by Klausinger, accusing the man of harbouring anti-semitic sentiments. Klausinger, it turns out, has based his article on an earlier publication by Ethan himself, thus rendering Ethan’s criticism absurd. To make things worse, Klausinger thinks he is Ethan’s illegitimate brother and travels to Israel to meet the family when Ethan is there to find a kidney donor for his dying father. Thus the modern story of an identity search unfolds….
Doron Rabinovici and Daniel Wildmann kindly agreed to discuss conceptions of Jewish and non-Jewish identities with me, enjoying the fact that we were having this conversation in London, where translations of Doron’s fictional and non-fictional books have been received with great interest and enthusiasm in the past. We touched on the subject of the ‘public Jewish intellectual’ in Austria and elsewhere, as well as on the question of trust and the difficulties of small talk.
You can access the recording through the School of Advanced Studies website, where you can also download it from itunes!