What drives men to frequent small, dark, smoke-filled betting shops in the middle of the day in order, in utter monotony and isolation, to convert their salaries, their unemployment compensation, even their child support for their sons, their daughters, into small bills made of thermal paper and risk them in games that have already taken place years ago?
The young Austrian author Ilir Ferra asked himself this question for more than a year, while he took the place of an applicant in a betting office in the Niederhofstraße and acted as a middle-man between players and the betting system. He has bundled his experiences and observations into a novel of filmic clarity, in which, through the eye of the first-person narrator, the reader comes into close contact with some of the strangest and yet most everyday people.
For them the future, which begins anew with every game, consists only of the possibility of winning. Everything else, past, present, ceases to exist. But the future subtracts more than one would think, and what remains is a substantial Minus, a lack of time for life.
Ilir Ferra was born in 1974 in the Albanian coastal city of Durrës. He studied translation at the University of Vienna. In 2008 he was awarded the prize “Writing Between Cultures.”
His first novel Smoke-Shadows was honored in 2012 with the Adelbert-von-Chamisso Prize of the Robert Bosch Foundation.
He lives with his family in Vienna, where he works as a freelance author and translator.
Books from Austria
The Austrian Publishers and Booksellers Association represents the interests of Austria´s book industry in economic and political matters. The most important project of the Association is the annual Vienna International Book Fair (BUCH WIEN), in which the Austrian Book Price is awarded.