Obituary: Gert Jonke

I had the chance to meet Gert Jonke in Vienna a few years back. I was there with Dalkey publisher John O’Brien, looking for Austrian writers to publish in English. (One of the titles we heard about was A Fucking Masterpiece, which, according to the reading report we got, actually wasn’t, but it’s still one of the ballsiest titles I’ve ever come across.) Dalkey published Jonke’s Geometric Regional Novel back in the 80s a fantastic and imaginative book that contains one of the funniest faux-bureaucratic questionnaires to ever appear in print, and John was always looking for other Jonke books to publish.

(Dalkey did end up deciding on a few, including Homage to Czerny, which made the Best Transalted Book longlist. And Ariadne Books is doing one as well.)

One of my favorite moments with Gert was when I asked if he’d be willing to come to the U.S. for a reading tour. He politely declined, saying he wasn’t really interested in coming to the States because there’s no where you can smoke in this country. And he wasn’t sure if Red Bull would be as accessible here as it is in Austria . . .

If any English-language obituaries are published, I’ll update this post and link to them below.

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