Hubert von Goisern
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FLÜCHTIG

Flüchtig - a novel

Flüchtig - Hubert AchleitnerFlüchtig (Fleeting) is the first novel from the pen of Hubert Achleitner, better known to many as the musician Hubert von Goisern. The book will be published by Zsolnay on 27th April 2020.

Maria has disappeared. Herwig, to whom she has been married for almost thirty years, hasn't heard from her in months. The fact that she quit her job and took his Volvo at least gives reason to hope that she's still alive. But what has happened to their marriage, their love, their life together?

Hubert Achleitner sends his protagonists on an adventurous journey that takes them from the Austrian mountains across Europe all the way to Greece, a journey that, above all, turns out to be a highly emotional trip inward for them both.

A wise and very musical novel about love and longing, fate and fleeting bliss ... "The encounters with these people were as fleeting as the plucked notes of the bouzouki. Nonetheless, each of them left a melody in my heart that still resonates."

Audiobook

Laconically, musically and with wit, Hubert Achleitner weaves a great tale. The debut novel from world musician Hubert von Goisern will also be available as an audiobook.

The unabridged reading of Flüchtig by actress Caroline Peters will be published by Random House on 8 CDs, with a run time of approximately 10 hours, as well as being available for digital download or streaming.

Flüchtig by Hubert Achleitner - published 27th April 2020
Hardcover: ISBN 978-3-552-05972-6 | Audiobook: ISBN 978-3-8371-5125-1
E-Book ISBN 978-3-552-05957-3
Pre-order now: Amazon | Zsolnay | Random House


5 questions for ... Hubert Achleitner

Maria and Herwig are the two most important protagonists of your novel Flüchtig. When and how did you first conceive of the couple?

I had the first idea about fifteen years ago. The story should centre on a woman who leaves her husband – heads out of the door without explanation and doesn't come back. And a man, who sets off in search for her and for the reason behind her puzzling disappearance. They were both supposed to make a journey and cross boundaries.

Travelling, foreign worlds, other perspectives and different faiths change Maria and Herwig, and the people around them. Are there times in life when we must stop and look around?

The majority of our life runs according to the image that we carry around with us of ourselves and of the world, firm on the track of external needs. However, time and again there are turning points, junctions, track changes … Whether you take them or ignore them depends on your readiness to follow your intuition and expose yourself to the risk of the unknown.

Your novel is largely written from the female perspective. How did that come about?

On the one hand it was the greater challenge, but it also helped me to put myself in someone else's position.

How did you go from composing and playing music to writing?

I've wanted to try my hand at fiction for a long time. Music was entirely to blame for the fact that it took so long. Musical adventures kept creeping in and muscling their way to the front. Until two years ago, when I put away all the musical instruments and banished them from my sight.

How does such a debut as an author feel for someone like you, who has followed such a long and artistically successful path?

It always feels good to succeed at something you've set your mind to. My first book, Stromlinien, was published in 2010. It was the logbook of my journey through Europe with a cargo ship that had been converted to a stage. While I was writing Stromlinien, I often struggled with having to keep with the facts. Fiction would be much simpler, or so I thought at the time. Working on this novel proved me wrong. But it was certainly more pleasurable.

"Continue!"

Die Furche 23rd October 2019 | Text: Doris Helmberger-Fleckl and Brigitte Quint

Hubert Achleitner alias von Goisern on travelling, the time it requires
- and why foreign lands are often closer than you think.

Singer-songwriter Hubert von Goisern has finished writing his first novel Flüchtig (to be published in April 2020). When it comes to content, all he reveals is that it's about travelling, above all to oneself. At the beginning of the interview he puts on his black anorak and moves the interview outdoors – onto the terrace of a hotel in Linz, with a view of the Danube. Hubert Achleitner, as the artist was born, feels put off by the background music in the breakfast room. The constant music makes it difficult to think, he says.

South Africa, Philippines, Nepal, Senegal, Greenland – you've been around the world. Not just as an ordinary tourist. You've often settled in places for months or years at a time. Why have you so often left home?

To rediscover and reinvent myself. That's very difficult to do in an environment where everyone knows you. People project something onto you. That is, what they want to see in somebody. On the other hand, you can shed your skin somewhere where nobody knows you.

So why were you so keen to become someone else?

I don't want to die the person I was born. I certainly think there's room for improvement. Your core remains the same of course. But I don't want to stay still. Stopping time is boring in the long run. It's also about gathering experiences, trying things out and then perhaps realising that it doesn't suit you.

The body has to move physically so that what is innermost appears?

The spirit is connected to the body – at least as long as we breathe. But it's not just about what is innermost, but also what's outermost. About what is beyond the bounds of my imagination. Travel gives you this opportunity.

Don't you have to explain yourself in foreign places and talk about yourself too?

That's true and it's in such situations that you get to know yourself best. In the Philippines I was once asked to sing a few songs. And what did I choose? Folk songs and children's songs from the Salzkammergut. I had the feeling that these melodies would say something about me. To feel what homeland was, it was necessary to leave.

What definition of homeland did you find for yourself?

For 21 years it was the place in which I grew up, Goisern. But in the meantime, there are more places where I feel at home. Salzburg, Vienna. But when I go to Greenland or the Philippines too, it's a kind of coming home.

So, by leaving home you found homelands. Can homeland be plural?

Coming home isn't a passive, but an active feeling. Homeland is where I empathise and get involved. They are the places and people where saying goodbye and leaving triggers feelings of melancholy. Homelands can change too, some fade and others become transformed.

Finding yourself, locating yourself – what else is travelling about for you?

About learning through encountering and dealing with the unknown.

One of your biggest hits is called Heast as nit, wia die Zeit vergeht (Can't You Hear How Time Goes By). What role does time play in your travels?

I'd prefer that it didn't play any role at all. The perfect journey would be one without time pressure and without a destination. There's that wonderful saying: the goal is in the way! But this requirement on travel is difficult to put into practice. For me at least. Unfortunately. If anywhere, it works for me when I'm hunting for mushrooms. There's the aim of finding mushrooms, but the letting yourself just "drift" works in this case.

The famous notion of "living in the here and now" – is that what it's about for you?

It's important in life to see what is there in the moment. Then you pause – and then continue. That's what it's about too – continuing!

A plea for continuing and against standing still?

Yes, although you need the latter too at times. But you have to take another step at some point. It depends on this one step. It's better to take a step in the wrong direction than not to take a step at all. You can always change direction. But if you stand still, everything stays as it is. If you're happy that way, that's okay. But I need the kick of the new. It makes me unhappy to do the same thing three times.

A step can be taken forwards or backwards – progress or regression. As a globetrotter, how does this concept strike you?

It's progress when you go back too. We're not going backwards though. We're turning around and going in the other direction. I like coming at the source of something. The search for the origin is what drives me. Take music. The first two or three notes came into being one day. Whichever they were. And then people made something from them. That's what I want to tie in with.

At the same time as a musician you've often provoked an abrupt change at exactly this point. With your lyrics too.

Have I? Well, some people always use the same mug and I sometimes use the jug that I brought back from a trip.

Some people would call that "progress" or "innovation".

If there's one thing positive about progress, I think it's that your mind becomes expanded. That there's a greater awareness of interrelationship. The climate debate is one example.

Back to travel. When do you come up against your personal boundaries?

When I leave my comfort zone. When I leave my bubble it becomes stressful, but exciting too. It doesn't matter whether I'm in Austria, America or Greenland – I'm actually always in a milieu which harmonises with me. I seek birds of a feather and find them everywhere. But those who tick differently are the ones who interest me.

And where are these people?

Everywhere. The other world, the foreign, is basically very close. Sometimes right on your doorstep. The most exciting journeys take you to those you think are cuckoo.