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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Herr Susi

Thomas Glavinic

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To purchase Herr Susi

Title: Herr Susi
Author: Thomas Glavinic
Genre: Novel
Written: 2000
Length: 275 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Herr Susi
  • Herr Susi has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : amusing novel of a small city charmer with big city ambitions.

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Berliner Morgenpost . 28/5/2000 Alexander Remler
Der Standard . 19/2/2000 Stefan Gmünder

  From the Reviews:
  • "(F)ür Insider liest sich Herr Susi wie ein Schlüsselroman. Und für alle anderen ist er eine zwar konventionell geschriebene, aber vor allem sehr unterhaltsame Geschichte." - Alexander Remler, Berliner Morgenpost

  • "Gesagt sei aber, dass Glavinic ein Romanpersonal aufbietet, das sich an Skurrilität kaum mehr überbieten lässt." - Stefan Gmünder, Der Standard

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:

       Herr Susi ("Mr. Susi") tells the story of Georg Susacek -- more commonly known by the more easily pronounceable nickname that gives the book its title (given to him also because of his high-pitched voice). An ambitious young fellow living in one of Austria's provincial second cities the book tells of his rise to the top, and what he finds when he has finally made it.
       Georg comes from extremely humble circumstances. He tries to establish himself by working in a variety of jobs, but meets with relatively little success. He even winds up, briefly, in jail. After a while he lands a job at an insurance company, earning a bit on the side by looking the other way on some claims, but he sees he won't really make it big here either.
       Georg's luck changes when he meets the beautiful and well-connected Lori. Through her Georg manages to get a job for a realtor. More importantly, when they go to a football (soccer) game of the FC (the local club) she gets him to sit in the good seats (not the stands, which is where he usually can be found) and introduces him to some of the local bigwigs -- avid supporters that are all involved in the running of the team (and the city).
       Vienna dominates Austria as much as London does England. It is some eight times the size of the next largest city, Graz (on which the unnamed city of this novel is clearly based) or Linz. Provincial jealousy is especially strong in the sports sector, with the local teams always eager to show the rich clubs from the capital that they can be taken seriously. Georg recognizes that the FC and all the local passion it arouses can be his ticket to success.
       Georg manages to set up his own realty firm, getting better connected (and taking in and spending more money) all the time. Playing a few people off one another, and carefully hiding his own skeletons, he rises to fairly great heights. Even there, however, all is not well. His marriage leaves him dissatisfied, he becomes alienated from his old buddies (and doesn't quite fit in with the new) -- and he has those few skeletons that eventually come back to haunt him.
       Herr Susi is a local satire, taking deadly aim at provincial politics and high society and skewering it fairly successfully. Glavinic does much of this very well, but the book also gets stuck in this mode. It yearns (as Georg yearns) to be more, but doesn't quite manage. It is fun, but not quite fun enough for a true comedy, and it has some serious ambitions which doesn't come across entirely successfully either. Glavinic does a lot well, but doesn't fully succeed on every level of this multilayered novel.
       Herr Susi does show a great deal of promise. For one thing, it could hardly be more different from Glavinic's previous effort, his highly praised debut, Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw (see our review). Glavinic shows an expanding range of talent here, and while some of the writing is still a bit rough (there's a bit too much bland description and mentions of the weather, for example), he presents his story well. Alternating between the present and scenes from the past Glavinic builds his story with humour and drama, holding the reader's interest.
       An entertaining read, fairly well done, from a promising writer.

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Herr Susi: Reviews: Other books by Thomas Glavinic under review: Thomas Glavinic: Other books of interest under review:
  • See the index of German literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Austrian author Thomas Glavinic was born in 1972.

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