Book: The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Austrians

The book: The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Austrians, by Louis James

The edition: revised (2002) edition, as published by Oval Books, 64 pages

About the book: a tongue-in-cheek description of Austrian life and customs

My experience with the book & my thoughts: after living in Austria for some time, I then read this book while I was there on vacation, and it was fun to discover all the Austrian little quirks in the book. On the other hand, my view of the Austrians differs strongly from the author’s. To him, Austrian seem careless and approximative in everything they do; to me, they have their own turn of German-like precision…

What I liked: seeing in true life scenes I had just read in the book

What I didn’t like: that someone who had no first hand experience of Austria could read this as true criticism rather than tongue-in-cheek humor

In the author’s own words: this is a scene that I saw in a café, where a group of businessmen were meeting…

Austrians are sticklers for formal manners. Hand-shaking is a national pasttime and latecomers to committee meetings hold up proceedings until all available flesh has been pressed; and woe betide anyone who fails to greet, whether entering a shop or buying a postage stamp.

Read this if: if you have been in Austria, not if you still have to go.

Counts as: Travel with Books – Vienna

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