What is the best-known book set in Austria?

See note on methodology

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s a graphic novel, probably the only graphic novel we’ll get in this series of posts. I’m cheating slightly in that it’s the third part of an autobiography sold in four albums in the original French, but the best-selling English translation binds it together with the fourth part which (like the first two) is set in the author’s home country, so readers of that version will hold in their hands a book which is only half set in Austria. But I think the author’s original intent counts. It’s the story of a disastrous attempt to emigrate from the Middle East to Vienna in the late twentieth century, the heartbreak of exile in Vienna combined with disillusionment about Western lifestyles. In the English edition, it is the first half of:

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi

I’ve ruled out a number of books frequently tagged “Austria” here – all of Kafka, Stefan Zweig’s Chess Story, The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud – on the grounds that they are not really (or at best only partially) set in Austria. The leaves me with the top Austrian book set in Austria and written by an Austrian, an unfinished novel published in three parts between 1930 and 1943 (the year after the author’s untimely death); apparently the German edition these days is sold with a CD-ROM including the author’s various surviving drafts of how the novel might have ended. It is:

The Man Without Qualities Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, by Robert Musil

Bubbling under: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Elfride Jelinek, Patrick Leigh Fermour.

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