Austrian and Swiss authors liven up ‘Long Night of Literature'

It was the perfect setting for a night of literature. People sat around an open air theatre, under a starry night sky, listening to the prose, poetry and conversation taking place on stage.

Austrian author Peter Rosei and Swiss poet Raphael Urweider in their first visit to Hyderabad enthralled the audience with readings of their works. Peter, who was the recipient of the Franz Kafka award in 1993 and has about a dozen works, sweeping different genres including a screenplay of his work Wer war Edgar Allen, to his name, read an excerpt from his novel, Metropolis Vienna, that deals with post-war Vienna. This book has recently been translated into Hindi.

Peter was born in Vienna soon after the war and remembers a childhood surrounded by adults who would relive the horrors of war. He says, “Our society was a traumatised one.” He stresses his book is not historic but he tries to re- create the ideas, thoughts and feelings of a post-war society. When in Delhi, Peter found that the book found particular significance with Indians who had dealt with a similar situation post-partition.

After Peter's reading, Raphael recited a few of his poems. Simple, touching and full of imagery the poems resonated with the audience. A love poem with a moving line, gladly I rest so close to your heartbeat and a funny poem about Christopher Columbus landing in America but thinking he had reached India had the audience riveted.

Raphael's poems are very different from most modern poems and he attributes this to the fact that he grew up reading the works of poets of his grandfather's generation. His poems are usually in third person and he says that, “Poetry should be about you and the world.” Raphael though only in his thirties is an author, poet, musician, rapper as well as a director.

The night also had Peter and Raphael in conversation with Sridala Swami. Audience participation was also invited and the place was filled with exchange of thoughts and banter.

During the course of the night it was revealed that Raphael's greatest influence was Peter's brother-in-law who was a poet. But Peter and Raphael had never met prior to the event in Hyderabad. They jokingly said, “We had to come all the way to Hyderabad in order to meet each other.” They both hoped to visit India and Hyderabad again and for a longer period. The ‘Long Night of Literature' took place at Saptaparani and was organised by Goethe–Zentrum.