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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Radek Knapp

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To purchase Papiertiger

Title: Papiertiger
Author: Radek Knapp
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003
Length: 149 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Papiertiger - Deutschland
  • Papiertiger has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B+ : enjoyable, if almost too easy-going

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 17/6/2003 Martin Halter
Die Welt . 19/7/2003 Ulrich Baron

  From the Reviews:
  • "Je mehr der Jungautor die Bluffs des Betriebs durchschaut, desto mehr gerät auch Knapps Schriftstellersatire aus dem Lot: Der arglose Parzival verwandelt sich in einen unterkühlten Zyniker, der tragikomische Träumer in einen ehrgeizigen Aphoristiker, der unschuldige Jüngling in einen mißvergnügten Kulturkritiker, der traurige Clown in einen Sinnsucher. (...) Papiertiger ist, wie der Name schon sagt, keine Raubkatze, sondern ein artig schnurrender Hauskater ohne Krallen und Zähne, der träumt, weil ihm die Trauben zu hoch hängen. Sechs geteilt durch zwei ergibt nicht immer drei und eine harmlose Rechenaufgabe noch keine literarische Offenbarung." - Martin Halter, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Nicht nur koffeinhaltige Erfrischungsgetränke, sondern auch die zahlreichen attraktiven Jobangebote verleihen den Menschen in Radek Knapps neuen Erzählungen Flügel." - Ulrich Baron, Die Welt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Papiertiger is a five-act novella chronicling Walerian Gugania's search for some purpose in life. Studying wasn't the ticket, and he's not a real career-oriented guy either. Instead, he tries his hand at most every job he can. It makes for life-experience, if nothing else.
       Knapp doesn't try to lay out some grand Bildungsroman, taking a scenes-from-the-life approach that focusses on a few representative episodes and incidents instead. The first chapter has Walerian at a job interview for a position he is unqualified for; he doesn't want the job, but revels in the opportunity of playing someone he's not. In the second chapter Walerian is working as a Christmas angel, delivering gifts in the appropriate costume (a department store gimmick that's apparently quite popular), giving him some glimpses of other lives.
       What it builds up to is Walerian becoming a successful author: the third chapter begins with him receiving a telephone call from a publisher telling him that his novel (Papiertiger, of course) has won a prize and is being published. It's the first readers hear of the novel, or even that Walerian has any writterly ambitions -- but that's appropriate enough, since for Walerian it's just another thing he was toying around with, practically forgotten since he sent the manuscript out three months earlier.
       What follows is Walerian's life as a successful author: he travels to Frankfurt to pick up his prize, and is immediately sent off on a book tour. He doesn't take it all very seriously -- an attitude that fits in well in this literary milieu (along with all the other different attitudes) where everybody takes things very seriously and doesn't realise that he's not. Knapp has an appealing way with what he highlights, lingering over the interactions at the prize reception, for example, but paying almost no attention to the winning novel (the reader learns practically nothing about it). Similarly, he doesn't bother with many of the booktour-details, offering only a few scenes (and the text itself is again far, far in the background).
       Walerian's playful approach and attitude make for an appealing character, and Knapp finely balances his conversations: the people he talks to never seem to realise when he's poking fun, taking what he says at face value -- and Walerian is never truly cruel. Ultimately, he's almost too laid back, the character sketch too sketchy ... but then Walerian is a person who truly just coasts along in life, never allowing himself to get caught up in any sort of ambition.
       Consistently winning, the novel is almost too easy-going, the scenes not adding up to quite enough (or suggesting anything further). Good fun, though -- a nice read.

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Reviews: Other books by Radek Knapp under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of German literature

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About the Author:

       Radek Knapp was born in Warsaw in 1964 and has lived in Austria since 1976.

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