Night Work

Thomas Glavinic, translated by John Brownjohn
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Night Work
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Philip Oltermann writes:

The opening scene of Night Work, Thomas Glavinic’s Viennese novel, recalls something Karl Kraus said about the city in 1914: Vienna was a ‘Versuchsstation des Weltuntergangs’, an experimental station for the apocalypse. Jonas, Glavinic’s protagonist, gets up one morning and switches on the TV. There is no picture, only snow. He checks the post, but the paper hasn’t been delivered. He tries to check his email, but the server is down. He walks to the bus stop, but no bus arrives. And there are no cars. And no people, and no birds. He calls his girlfriend Marie, who is visiting a relative in the North of England. The ringing tone, he notices, is ‘different from the Austrian one, lower and consisting of two short purring sounds’. After listening to it for the tenth time, he hangs up. Ten pages later, after several unanswered emergency calls and a mad dash through the city centre, he still hasn’t seen a soul. An alien abduction? An Alpine tsunami? A nuclear attack? If so, ‘why should anyone take the trouble to waste such expensive technology on an old city that had lost its importance?’

(LRB 14 August 2008)

Published by Canongate Books Ltd
17 July 2008
ISBN: 9781847670519