Josef Winkler’s Graveyard

An excerpt of Adrian Nathan West’s tr. of Winkler’s Graveyard of Bitter Oranges

The Brooklyn Rail (December 9, 2015)

Lengthier sample of the book available here.



Josef Winkler’s Graveyard

Fringe Elements

Monica Carter on Adrian Nathan West’s tr. of Josef Winkler’s Natura Morta

“With proponents such as Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhard, it’s difficult to understand why Josef Winkler hasn’t garnered more of an English-speaking audience. He’s won many literary prizes in Germany and his native Austria, including the Alfred Döblin Prize for his novella, Natura Morta, in 2001. Winkler hasn’t had many works translated into English but thankfully, that seems to be changing with the release of When the Time Comes in 2013, Natura Morta in 2014 and Graveyard of Bitter Oranges in 2015, both by Contra Mundum Press and translated by Adrian West.

In Natura Morta, a novella that reads like a demonic script version of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin directed by Michael Haneke, Winkler stays true to his themes of Catholicism, homoeroticism and death. In just over ninety pages, his indefatigable sensory detail pulses and throbs, rots and stinks, foams and drips, sweats and sticks so that the reader cannot escape the suffocating reality of the Roman marketplace, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.”

Read the full piece here: Three Percent


Fringe Elements

Natura Morta Review

Natura Morta reads well against the seminal Teuton-among-the-Italians novella,Death in Venice, but where Mann’s tale of boy love, death, and discomfiting weather pits the Apollonian against the Dionysian, Winkler’s riposte is complete bacchanal. In Natura Morta, Apollo, if he appears at all, is but a coin smeared with blood, shit, and sweat as soon as it is tendered. The two novellas bear the conversation; Winkler has won an embarrassment of awards and stands almost as tall as his predecessor in countries other than this one.

Winkler has fallen victim to our market’s provincialism regarding literature in translation and we owe tremendous thanks to Adrian West and Contra Mundum Press for bringing the text to such vivid life. Natura Morta deserves hyperbolic praise. It should be studied, passed among friends, argued over, and stolen from shamelessly and thoroughly. Winkler has stripped fiction bare and approached the line that separates composition from reality itself. Delight and horror contest on every page. And what’s more, at the book’s end, after Piccoletto is hit by a fire engine, dies, and is given a funeral, in one short, final paragraph, a story, a symbol, a character, and a theme miraculously emerge. A name, a mere coordinate, becomes a man. And this man, in inconsolable, Orphic grief, wandering aimlessly among weathered tombs with a bouquet of red broom (an object from the very first image in the book), invents a new and ancient narrative by whimpering to no one that can hear: “buona notte, anima mia!” The reader is stricken, as though by the birth of a star.”

Read the full review here: William Emery, The Collagist (October 2014).

Natura Morta Review

Natura Morta review

“With rare exceptions the sentences are beautifully balanced (much also to the credit of translator West), and as laden with visuals as a feast table in the era of the Dutch masters was loaded down with victuals. The omniscient narrator is flawlessly neutral, allowing the images, the minimal action, and the character’s reactions to the events of this single day in a Roman square tell the story. I was reminded slightly of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s dispassionate voice, but Winkler, despite complete emotional disengagement—even when narrating in gruesome detail a butcher splitting open the head of the lamb or a hare—somehow conveys more warmth than Robbe-Grillet. … With its open love of the sensuous, [Natura Morta] lingers curiously long in the mind, staining memory a subtle hue in the way that, hours after the sun has disappeared behind the horizon, the sky still holds its glow.”

For the complete review: Vincent Czyz, The Arts Fuse (June 2, 2014).

Natura Morta review

Josef Winkler in NYC




Join acclaimed Austrian author Josef Winkler and special guests at this unique literary-musical event. Winkler will read from his work in German and his translator Adrian West will read the corresponding texts in English. Fulya Peker will perform one of her Modern Mythologies, a performance based on Winkler’s Natura Morta.


Born a farmer’s son in 1953 in Austria’s southernmost province, Carinthia, and without any formal higher education, JOSEF WINKLER is one of Austria’s most notable contemporary authors. The self-taught writer’s first novel Menschenkind was published by Suhrkamp in 1979 paving the way for an exceptional literary career.

Today, Winkler’s books have been translated into 16 different languages. He received numerous awards, including the most prestigious awards in German-language literature such as the “Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis,” the “Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis für Literatur,” and the “Georg-Büchner-Preis.” For Natura Morta, he received the Alfred Döblin Prize (2001).

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ADRIAN WEST’S translations include the long poem cycle Alma Venus by Pere Gimferrer and Büchner-prize–winning novelist Josef Winkler’s Natura Morta and When the Time Comes. His essays, translations, and fiction have been published in numerous print and online journals, including McSweeney’s3:AM, and Words Without Borders. He lives with the cinema critic Beatriz Leal Riesco.

FULYA PEKER is a Turkish born NY based theaterist & poet. She has performed in works by: Richard Foreman, John Zorn, Object Collection, Robert Ashley, butoh master Katsura Kan, and was featured in David Michalek’s Portraits in Dramatic Time at Lincoln Center. Peker has developed experimental vocal and physical notations and choreographies and gives workshops on avant-garde theater, ritualistic theater, and butoh. Visit her site at:

For the complete listing and further info: Austrian Cultural Forum


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JOSEF WINKLER will also be participating in the PEN World Voices Festival


Participants: Siri Hustvedt, GeeRt Mak, Sjon, and Josef Winkler
Moderated by: John Freeman and Morgan Meis

Public Theater, WED April 30 at 7:00 PM

In the first of two speed-chess style interviews, writer-editors Morgan Meis and John Freeman speak with acclaimed Festival participants from across the globe. Each writer – Iceland’s Sjon, Austria’s Josef Winkler, the Netherland’s Geert Mak, and the United States’ own Siri Hustvedt — is a master from his or her own country. Don’t miss the chance to hear these fine writers speak about topics including religion, art, and craft.

For complete info: Public Theater




Josef Winkler in NYC

Winkler & PEN World Voices Festival

A Literary Quartet

With: Sjon, Siri Hustvedt, Geert Mak, Josef Winkler, moderated by John Freeman and Morgan Meis

Wednesday 30th April

7–8:30 pm

The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC

In the first of two speed-chess style interviews, writer-editors Morgan Meis and John Freeman speak with acclaimed Festival participants from across the globe.  Each writer — Iceland’s Sjon, Austria’s Josef Winkler, the Netherland’s Geert Mak, and the United States’ own Siri Hustvedt — is a master from his or her own country. Don’t miss the chance to hear these fine writers speak about topics including religion, art, and craft.


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For more on Josef Winkler, see the following links:

“I am the eternal altar boy” (interview with Winkler): Signandsight

Bernard Banoun & Adrian West discuss translating Winkler & more: Quarterly Conversation

An excerpt from Winkler’s Natura Morta: A Roman Novella in BODY: POETRY.PROSE.WORD

K. Thomas Kahn reviews When the Time Comes & Natura Morta: Numero Cinq

Excerpts from Graveyard of Bitter Oranges: Paris Review



Winkler & PEN World Voices Festival

In Conversation: On Winkler


Essay by Bernard Banoun and Adrian West

“Winkler became a sort of instant obsession for me—it was maybe a month after reading Natura Morta that I had bought everything he had written, and I began translating him that fall—and second because a marked characteristic of his work is the unwillingness or incapacity to depart from a fairly limited number of themes. The backgrounds change, but whether he is in Roppongi, Mexico City, or Varanasi, the same images crop up like ghosts: the pig with its throat slit, the two boys who hanged themselves together, his aunt lifting him up over the coffin to look down at the dead face of his grandmother. I tend to relate these to two phenomena well-known in psychology: the so-called “intrusive memories” common to trauma sufferers and what is known as memory-rehearsal, an act by which our recollections of the past become more refined, sharp-edged, and potent. A curious aspect of Winkler’s writing is his ability to impress his own concerns onto the reader. I, at least, do not grow bored seeing the same scenes played out again, though I have read all of his books, and some of them several times; the fine-grained differences, the way the contours of an event harden or soften over time, is fascinating to me. Proust is the great writer of memory and time, but with the possible exception of Albertine disparue, I don’t know that he delves so deeply into the evolutions of memory in time, and this seems to me one of Winkler’s signal contributions. I suppose these memories take the place of protagonists in Winkler’s writings, they have a kind of disembodied reality and serve to maintain tension in the novels.”

To read the full dialogue-essay:

Quarterly Conversation (March 10, 2014)

In Conversation: On Winkler