Christa Wolf Giveaway – The Winners


One day left before  German Literature Month begins.

High time to announce the winners of Christa Wolf’s August – offered by Seagull Books.

And the winners are:

TJ @ MyBookStrings

Melissa Beck

Congratulations! And happy reading, TJ and Melissa.

Please send me your address via beautyisasleepingcat at gmail dot com. Lizzy will be sending your copies.


CATS A – Z by Martha Knox


A while back I received an e-mail from artist Martha Knox asking whether I’d like to review her book CATS A – Z. In recent years I’ve become wary of these requests because most of the time the cat books I’m offered are either annoyingly humourous (sorry but I’m not into Lol cats or “I haz” cats) or too mawkish. Of course, I love my cats and think they are cute but they are far more than that. They are interesting, fascinating and complex. Something told me that Martha’s book would be quite different. I was right. The book she sent me is simply amazing.

Just look at this woodcut of a sleeping cat. It serves as the end pages of the book.

Endpages Martha Knox

In her book Martha Knox goes through the alphabet sharing true stories and mythology, accompanied by bits of information and illustrated with gorgeous woodcuts. Some of the stories are stunning, some are sad, others are informative. Some stories are about famous cats like All Ball, a kitten adopted by a gorilla in a zoo. Others about unknown cats or literary cats like Raton from Jean de La Fontaine’s fable The Monkey and the Cat.

Zombi by Martha Knox

The picture above shows Zombi, the cat of British poet Richard Southey. Southey claimed in a letter that his cat saw the devil.

Martha Knox

I truly love this book and think that many poeple would enjoy it just as much. It would make a wonderful gift for any cat or art lover.

For those who want to find out more, maybe buy the book, read something about Martha or even buy a print, here are a few links:

The book’s release announcement on Martha’s blog: click here 

Wednesdays Are Wunderbar – German Literature Month Giveaway – August by Christa Wolf


It’s Wednesday again and you already know what that means. We’re hosting a giveaway. This week’s copies are from Seagull Books (University of Chicago Press).

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For this year’s German Literature Month I have the opportunity to give away two copies of Christa Wolf’s August, translated by Katy Derbyshire. Since I’m hosting a Christa Wolf week this year, I’m particularly pleased about this giveaway.

Christa Wolf Week

Here’s what the editor writes about August:

Christa Wolf was arguably the best-known and most influential writer in former East Germany. Having grown up during the Nazi regime, she and her family were forced to flee their home like many others, nearly starving to death in the process. Her earliest novels were controversial because they contained veiled criticisms of the Communist regime which landed her on government watch lists. Her past continued to permeate her work and her life, as she said, “You can only fight sorrow when you look it in the eye.”

August is Christa Wolf’s last piece of fiction, written in a single sitting as an anniversary gift to her husband. In it, she revisits her stay at a tuberculosis hospital in the winter of 1946, a real life event that was the inspiration for the closing scenes of her 1976 novel Patterns of Childhood. This time, however, her fictional perspective is very different. The story unfolds through the eyes of August, a young patient who has lost both his parents to the war. He adores an older girl, Lilo, a rebellious teenager who controls the wards. Sixty years later, August reflects on his life and the things that she taught him.

Written in taut, affectionate prose, August offers a new entry into Christa Wolf’s work and, incidentally, her first and only male protagonist. More than a literary artifact, this new novel is a perfectly constructed story of a quiet life well lived. For both August and Christa Wolf, the past never dies.

If you are interested in winning this book, leave a comment, telling me why you’d like to read it.

The competition is open internationally. The winner will be announced on Saturday October 31 2015, around 18:00 Central European time.

I’m Back From Vienna


If you go on a trip and want to come back and share photos, you’d be well advised to check you’ve got the right camera card with you. Well, I hadn’t and so the only photo I can share from my recent trip to Vienna is this photo taken with my iPad. Vienna by night from my hotel room. The domes you see in the background belong to the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.

I was on a course, so I didn’t have as much time to explore as I would have wished but I still saw an amazing amount of great art.


There was a Munch exhibition at the Albertina.

Kubin und Feininger

Also at the Albertina, I saw an exhibition dedicated to Alfred Kubin and Lionel Feininger.



At the Winterpalais, I saw this Rembrandt, Tizian and Bellotto exhibition and, of course, the beautiful reception rooms of Prinz Eugen.

Dürer Kleine Eule

The Albertina has a nice collection of Dürer’s watercolours. I really like the little owl.


The Leopoldmuseum owns one of the biggest Schiele collections. I’ve always admired his work but never saw so many of his paintings.


I never appreciated Klimt because I’m not fond of his most famous painting “The Kiss”. The collection at the Leopoldmuseum showed another side of the painter, which I found beautiful and inspiring.

I could write a lot more about the trip but I’ll leave it at that. I truly enjoyed it and was glad to see that most of Vienna hasn’t changed much. There have been some unfortunate renovations in the centre, which make it cleaner, and, in my opinion, a bit sterile, but most of the city still has a shabby elegance, I find appealing. And the people are so warm and welcoming and have such a great sense of humour. If you get a chance, visit Vienna. It has such a lot to offer. I have a feeling, I’ll return soon. Also because I didn’t have enough time to go to the theater. That was unfortunate because they showed many interesting plays.

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I discovered a new to me Austrian crime author. I have no idea how good he is, but since he’s been translated into English, I thought the one or the other of you might be interested to pick him up for German Literature Month. His name is Bernhard Aichner and the book is called Woman of the Dead  – Totenfrau. It’s the first in a trilogy. Book two is already out in German. Here’s some praise taken from the blurb:

One of the Financial Times‘s top summer books for 2015

One of the Telegraph‘s Best Crime Fiction Books for 2015

‘An ironclad guarantee of sleepless nights’ INDEPENDENT

‘One of the most arresting thrillers I’ve read for years’ LISA GARDNER

‘Fast, edgy and gripping…full of quirks, with a conflicted heroine as killer at its heart. Do not miss it.’ GEOFFREY WANSELL, DAILY MAIL

‘Aichner has a talent for keeping readers hooked – this is a gripping read and the character of Blum lives long in the mind’ TELEGRAPH

‘An inventive, forceful, engrossing revenge thriller’ MARCEL BERLINS, TIMES

‘Blum is a great character and when Aichner’s ghost-train plot ends in the only place it can – a crematorium – you feel like cheering’ GUARDIAN


Small Break


I’m off to Vienna for a course and won’t be back before Tuesday 20. I wanted to write a couple of reviews before leaving but since I had the flu, I ran out of time. I just thought I let you know that I’m not ill anymore, just travelling.

I guess I could see this as a warm up for German Literature Month. I certainly hope I’ll get the chance to visit a book shop or two.

Should you wonder – the photo shows the Strudlhofstiege.

I hope you’re all doing fine. See you again in ten days.