Raphaela Edelbauer, born in Vienna in 1990, is an Austrian author with a keen interest in the philosophy of language and who writes, among other genres, prose texts, radio plays, and essays. She is active in performance art and teaches at the Universität für angewandte Kunst [University of the Applied Arts] in Vienna.
Edelbauer is the daughter of ethnologist and journalist Gabriele Schätzle-Edelbauer and philosopher and writer Henri Harald Edelbauer, with whom she worked on the philosophy of language. She went to school in Maria Enzersdorf (Mödling) in Lower Austria before taking up studies at the Institut für Sprachkunst at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. There she was a student of Robert Schindel alongside whom she teaches today. She also studied philosophy at the University of Vienna.
Edelbauer’s literary career began with publications in literary magazines and anthologies from 2009 onwards. She has written works commissioned by the city of Mödling and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Women as well as articles for Niederösterreichische Nachrichten (NÖN). Together with Sylvia Unterrader, Lena Treitler, and her mother Gabriele Schätzle-Edelbauer, she published the volumes Frauenspuren in Mödling and Frauenspuren in Mödling II, tracing the lives and work of women in the Lower Austrian district. She also translated Shakespeare’s play All’s Well that Ends Well for Shakespeare in Mödling which premiered in 2013 under the directorship of Nicole Fendesack.
Edelbauer’s writing has met with critical acclaim and she has been awarded a number of prizes, among them a stipend from the Deutscher Literaturfonds in 2017; the Rauriser Literaturpreis for Entdecker. Eine Poetik, her prose debut, in 2018, as well as the Publikumspreis and the Stadtschreiber-Stipendium der Stadt Klagenfurt and Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in the same year. Her first novel Das flüssige Land was shortlisted for both the German and the Austrian Book Prize in 2019 and she received the Austrian Book Prize for DAVE in 2021. Her latest novel, Die Inkommensurablen, was published in 2023 by Klett-Cotta, and was longlisted for the German Book Prize.
Das flüssige Land draws a dystopian picture of Austria and the reality that lies hidden beneath an Alpine idyll, and addresses issues of Austrian memory culture, the tension between tourism and nature, and the impact of science on humanity. The protagonist travels to Groß-Einland, her parents’ hometown, following their unexpected deaths. The town’s beautiful façade soon proves to be hiding a troublesome past that puts Groß-Einlands present at risk. During her stay, Ruth unearths information about the town’s history and in doing so, finds herself tasked with finding a way to save the town from imminent collapse. The novel is often understood as a contribution to the Austrian tradition of Anti-Heimatliteratur and part of a literary tradition established by authors like Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhardt. Das flüssige Land met with critical acclaim as well as commercial success. The book was ranked third on the ORF bestseller list in October 2019 and has since been published as an audio book, read by Kristina Sprenger, and translated into other languages. In February 2023 a stage adaptation premiered in the Viennese Burgtheater.
DAVE, Edelbauer’s 2021 novel, addresses issues of artificial intelligence, consciousness and memory as well as science and technology. According to the jury of the Austrian Book Prize, DAVE is a 'sophisticated science fiction novel with a built-in love story that adheres to the rules of a thriller'. The novel’s plot centres around the creation of the first general artificial intelligence equipped with human consciousness: DAVE. Programmer Syz, working in the computer lab developing the AI, faces turning points in his life: he falls in love with a young doctor, and the AI project is on the brink of failure. While the lab continues to work towards the realisation of the artificial superintelligence, Syz tries to understand whose interests it actually stands to serve. The novel’s publication was accompanied by a series of videos on the author’s Youtube Channel entitled Edelbauer erklärt exploring issues raised in the text.
Die Inkommensurablen tells the story of a group of youths in Vienna on the eve of World War I. The novel marries science with a nuanced portrayal of pre-war Vienna and its rich culture. Like Schönberg and his compositions which cause controversy in Edelbauer’s turn-of-the-century Vienna, her novel sparked debates among critics. It received rave reviews (e.g. in the Frankfurter Rundschau or the Süddeutsche Zeitung) as well as harsh criticism (such as from NDR or SWR). Xaver von Cranach reflects with other critics on this debate among in Der Spiegel and draws the conclusion that Edelbauer’s linguistic precision and adventurous storytelling shows a level of skill that is lost on those who find the book disappointing.
Online media are a significant part of Edelbauer’s work too. In 2017, the 'extreme performance' Literazah, developed with Jan Braun, premiered with performances in Vienna and Berlin, among others. A collaborative project with illustrator Simon Goritschnig, Expeditionen/Weltenformel (2019), conceptualised as a megalomaniacal attempt to answer all unanswered questions of humanity, resulted in a live-streamed Corona exorcism in May 2020. During the pandemic, Edelbauer repeatedly posted videos and online art projects. She wrote and performed pop-songs summarising core concepts of philosophers Hegel and Kant, read from Das flüssige Land while chopping wood, or read the theory of relativity from a toilet paper roll. Her tongue-in-cheek way of self-stylisation makes her image oscillate between science and philosophy, performance art and literature. She is also known for the reflection on her role as a woman writer and the literary industry (particularly in Austria) as her essay 'Zum Beispiel kein Fräuleinwunder' and contribution to the volume Ein GegenKanon show. She is co-founder of the Pataphysische Gesellschaft Wien, which aims to run absurdist projects in Austria.
In 2021–22 Edelbauer was the Metropolschreiberin in the Ruhr region and lived and worked in Mühlheim. She has since returned to Vienna where she lives with her partner, author Jana Volkmann.
Rebecca Wismeg-Kammerlander (London)
Entdecker. Eine Poetik (Vienna: Klever Verlag, 2017)
Das flüssige Land (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta-Verlag, 2019)
DAVE (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta-Verlag, 2021)
Die Inkommensurablen (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta-Verlag, 2021)
'Zum Beispiel kein Fräuleinwunder' in Und wie wir hassen! 15 Hetzreden, ed. by Lydia Haider (Vienna: Verlag Kremayr & Scheriau, 2020)
'Wenn das Magische selbstverständlich wird. Zu Klaus Hoffer' in Ein GegenKanon. Bücher, die auf der Strecke bleiben, und solche, die auf der Strecke bleiben sollten, ed. by Anton Thuswalder (Salzburg: Müry Salzmann, 2022)
'Ausflug' in Lautschrift 2011. Edition Angewandte ed. by Sabine Scholl (Vienna: Springer, 2011)
'Drei Echos von Antiheimat' in Lautschrift 2011. Edition Angewandte ed. by Sabine Scholl (Vienna: Springer, 2011)
'Drei sehr wichtige Fragen eines jeden Lebens' in Lautschrift 2011. Edition Angewandte ed. by Sabine Scholl (Vienna: Springer, 2011)
De Omeetbaren [Translation of Die Inkommensurablen by Irene Dirkes and Lucienne Pruijs] (Mass Market, 2024)
The Liquid Land [Translation of Das flüssige Land by Jen Calleja] (London: Scribe, 2021)
Terre Liquide [Translation of Das flüssige Land by Olivier Mannoni] (Paris: Editions Globe, 2021)
La Terra Liquida [Translation of Das flüssige Land by Valentina Torelli and Marina Pugliano] (Milan: Rizzoli, 2023)
Bakerat, Houman: ‘The Liquid Land Review – A Memorable Austrian Allegory’ (The Guardian, 10 September 2021)
Both, Wolfgang: 'Review of DAVE by Raphaela Edelbauer' in Das Science Fiction Jahr 2021 ed. by Melanie Wylutzki and Hardy Kettlitz (Berlin: Hirnkost, 2021)
Böttiger, Helmut: ‘Geheimcodes aus dem Lumpenproletariat’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 January 2023)
Engelmeier, Hanna: ’Brüchiger nie’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 September 2019)
Kreye, Adrian: ‘Erinnerungen an die Zukunft’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4 March 2021)
Ludewig, Alexandra: 'Eine Zukunft auf dem Land? Dystopische Imaginationen des Ländlichen in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur' in Die Zukunft auf dem Land ed. by Sigrun Langer and Mark Weiland (transcript, 2022)
Otte, Carsten: ‘Deus in machina’ (Die Zeit, 23 January 2021)
─: 'Buchkritik. Raphaela Edelbauer – Die Inkommensurablen’ (SWR2, 13 January 2023)
Solloch, Alexander: ‘Die Inkommensurablen: Enttäuschender Roman von Raphaela Edelbauer’ (NDR, 20 January 2023)
Spreckelsen, Tilman: ‘Ein Tropfen Blut für den Abgrund’ (Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 5 October 2019)
Van de Löcht, Joana: 'Literarische Naturgeschichten. Zum Import naturkundlicher Gattungen, Schreibweisen und Formate in der Gegenwartsliteratur' in Anthropozäne Literatur ed. by G. Dürbeck, S. Probst and C. Schaub (Berlin: J.B. Metzler, 2022)
Von Cranach, Xaver: ‘Die Inkommensurablen von Raphaela Edelbauer. Mist oder Musil?’ (Der Spiegel, 27 January 2023)
Von Sternberg, Judith: ‘Raphaela Edelbauer: Die Inkommensurablen' – Die Schlafwandler’ (Frankfurter Rundschau, 16 January 2023)
Wismeg-Kammerlander, Rebecca: 'Nature and Femininity in Raphaela Edelbauer’s Das flüssige Land. Fluid Concepts in a Liquid Land' (Oxford German Studies 51,3, 2022, pp. 321-334)
─: 'Nature and the "National Brand Austria": Contested Concepts in Raphaela Edelbauer's Das flüssige Land and Robert Seethaler's Ein ganzes Leben. (Austrian Studies 30, 2022, pp. 151-168)
─: The Narrative Power of Things. Consumer Culture in Contemporary Austrian Literature (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2023)