Why the Gentlemen Are Wearing Starfish

Karl, a retired teacher and father to a grown-up son, sets out to find out what happiness really is. He has chosen a snowless ski resort as the base for his research, and moves into an inn where he is the only customer, with just the disgruntled innkeeper and her dog for company. The King of Bhutan, we learn, once designed a questionnaire to measure the Gross National Happiness of his country. Karl modifies it and starts to question the villagers – but will this quasi-scientific method lead him to the answers he desires?

This, the author’s second novel, was longlisted for the German Book Prize and has been widely praised for its unique style and idiosyncratic plot. Her protagonists are ordinary people in an ordinary, provincial part of Austria, but Weidenholzer’s fractured narrative and her succinct, laconic tone are anything but. Funny, original and as strange as its title, this short novel is an immersive and unforgettable reading experience.

Anna Weidenholzer was born in 1984 in Austria, and now lives in Vienna. Her first book Der Platz des Hundes (2010) was nominated for the European Festival of First Novels and her second novel Der Winter tut den Fischen gut (2012) was nominated for the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. In 2013 Anna Weidenholzer received the Reinhard Priessnitz Award.

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Matthes & Seitz Berlin is an independent publishing house publishing fiction and non-fiction. Matthes & Seitz Berlin publishes works by Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille, de Sade and Roland Barthes. Among German authors like Esther Kinsky and Volker Harry Altwasser, Matthes & Seitz Berlin focuses on French, Italian and Russian translations. In 2010, the publishing house received the Prix de l’Académie de Berlin of the Robert-Bosch-Foundation for special commitment in the field of French literature.

Applications for adult fiction or children’s books should be made to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture in good time before the book goes to print.

For further information, please see our page on translation funding.