Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker

Portrait Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker
Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker [© Jürgen Bauer]

Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker was born in 1982 to a farming family in Kirchdorf an der Krems and grew up in Eberstalzell, Upper Austria. He studied agriculture, history, and international development in Vienna.

He made his debut with the novel »Der lange Gang über die Stationen« [tr: The Stations of the Long Road] in 2008. The novel was awarded the Jürgen Ponto Prize even before it was published and received a great deal of attention and recognition from various feature pages. Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of a young farmer who lives with his parents on the family farm. When he marries a woman from the city, a slow alienation sets in. The first-person narrator of Kaiser-Mühlecker’s second novel, »Magdalenaberg« [2009], is from a farming background. After the death of his brother, he reflects anew on his life – the »ZEIT« judged the work as »a quiet literary event«. With these two novels, Kaiser-Mühlecker had established himself as, according to DLF, a »great untimely writer of contemporary German-language literature«. Critics have repeatedly praised his thoughtful language, the atmospheric descriptions of nature, and the psychological subtlety of the characters. Peter Handke placed the author between Adalbert Stifter and Knut Hamsun. Avoiding any contemporary literary trends, Kaiser-Mühlecker returns again and again to the setting of Upper Austria and to the subject of a rural, often seemingly archaic way of life. For example, the novel »Roter Flieder« [2012; tr: Red Lilacs] tells the story of the Goldberger farming family over several generations. The story is brought to a close in »Schwarzer Flieder« [2014; tr: Black Lilacs]. »Fremde Seele, dunkler Wald« [2016; tr: Strange Soul, Dark Forest], which examines the disintegration of a farming family, was shortlisted for the German Book Prize. The sequel »Wilderer« [2022; tr: Poacher] was unanimously praised by critics. Protagonist Jakob, an irritable young man tired of life, manages his family’s farm. In an attempt to reorient his life, he starts a family with a young artist and converts the farm to organic farming. But the secrets of his past stand between him and his happiness. »Kaiser-Mühlecker gets close to his character in a fascinating way without making him more approachable. In his calm, almost classical narrative tone, this soul seems irredeemable – a stranger in a strange world«, summed up Ulrich Rüdenauer in his review for WDR3. The novel was number 1 on the SWR bestseller list in May 2022.

Reinhard Kaiser-Mühlecker has received many awards for his literary work, including the Austrian State Prize. In the meantime, he continues to run his family’s agricultural business in Eberstalzell.

Date: 2022