Alois Hotschnig [ Austria ]
Alois Hotschnig was born in 1959 in Berg/Drautal in Carinthia. He began studying medicine but soon changed to German Studies and English Studies at the University of Innsbrück. Hotschnig won the sponsorship award of the State of Carinthia in 1989 for his story »Aus« (tr: Out). As in many of his later stories the setting is apparently idyllic: in an Austrian village the farmer's son Artur Kofler breaks his silence at his father's deathbed concerning the humiliations and brutality which the patriarchal village society has propagated over generations. Alois Hotschnig's tone is simple, precise and merciless. The confrontation with the parents' generation also figures into his 1994 play »Absolution«: Ludwig is dead, and his parents await his body. While waiting, Ludwig's brother Georg confronts their father with his misconduct and the lies he has lived. It remains vague until the very end whether Ludwig is actually dead or whether he is about to walk in through the door. Alois Hotschnig's writing has traces of Existentialism as exemplified by Samuel Beckett's »Waiting for Godot«. In his story collection »Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht« (2006, tr: That Won't Reassure the Children) a family is waiting for Uncle Walter, who plays a major role in their lives despite never having actually appeared. Hotschnig circles the absence of individuals. His characters are trapped in absurd circumstances, in relationships whose foundations and meaning they do not understand, and in whose hopelessness and anxiety there are echoes of Kafka.
Although he also writes novels, Alois Hotschnig is above all an important writer of short stories: »In the short form it is possible for me to explore new facets of my writing.« In 2008 he was awarded the Erich-Fried-Prize because, in the words of the jury, »more than any other German-language writer« he affirms and develops the »unjustly neglected« literary form of the short story. His most recent work is also a collection of stories: »Im Sitzen läuft es sich besser davon« (tr: It's Easier to Run Away When You're Sitting Down) was published in 2009. The first story introduces a new, blackly humorous tone: Karl the dog terrorises an entire village, until the people discover that his bite has healing properties. As in his other works Hotschnig here displays his delight in absurd dialogues, and draws the reader into his precise observations of apparently everyday things. The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised him as one of »the best authors of his generation«. Alois Hotschnig lives as a freelance writer in Innsbrück.