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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen

Radek Knapp

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To purchase Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen

Title: Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen
Author: Radek Knapp
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999
Length: 251 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen - Deutschland
  • Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen has not been translated into English
  • Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen was made into a film in 2008, directed by Dariusz Gajewski

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Our Assessment:

A- : disarming, entertaining light read

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . 30/11/1999 Thomas Wirtz

  From the Reviews:
  • "Dieser Witz trifft satzweise und oft, doch man kann ihn nicht eigentlich wie eine gute durchgehende Geschichte erzählen. Er verbraucht sich schneller und hat ein wenig von der westlichen Kurzatmigkeit angenommen. So entgehen Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen nicht immer der Gefahr auch das Klischee kennen zu lernen. Der Leser nimmt es ihm nicht übel, weil selbst das Klischee in Radek Knapps Fall ein sympathischer Geselle ist." - Thomas Wirtz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Mr. Kuka's recommendations (so the title) make up only a small part of this novel, but capture the spirit very well. Polish youngster Waldemar has his sights set on a trip to western Europe, and it's his neighbour Mr. Kuka that convinces him that Austria -- and specifically Vienna -- is the place to go. Mr. Kuka (and all his advice) is almost entirely self-serving, but things still work out quite well.
       Mr. Kuka sends him off with some recommendations and a good luck charm, though as soon as Waldemar sees the bus Kuka suggests he take to Vienna -- resembling a refrigerator lying on its side -- he should know better (though the ride is cheap, and it does get him there). The Four Seasons hotel Kuka recommends also works out better than one might expect on first sight: it's not a hotel, and probably only good for a single season out of four (and not when it rains), but Waldemar settles in quite comfortably.
       Waldemar doesn't have much cash and knows he'll eventually have to get a job to sustain himself for the few weeks he's in Vienna, and his jobhunt leads to a few adventures. His fluent (if accented) German helps, but his shoes give his origins (and legal status) away. Eventually he winds up on the stretch of road where illegals sell their day-labour (finding many of his bus-mates there). His one job-offer leads to another beautifully absurd adventure, and though he winds up not only not making any money but actually in debt he does win a friend, a place to live, and eventually a good job in a toy store.
       Waldemar has a "Glücksschatten": he's not outright lucky, but is lucky in his misfortune, landing on his feet after every catastrophe large and small. Knapp plays with this idea very well, and the young innocent, battered around a bit by fate, is a winning character.
       Waldemar settles in with two unusual roommates, and a few more adventures ensue. It's cleverly done -- always the twist of good luck in what seems unavoidable catastrophe -- and Knapp's very engaging writing style makes for a very enjoyable read. The commentary on Austrians and Poles is nicely woven in as well, all in good fun, without anything being taken too seriously, but it's all also founded solidly enough to resonate with the underlying truths.
       A very good if simple comic novel, certainly recommended.

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Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen: Reviews: Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen - the film: Other books by Radek Knapp under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of German literature

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About the Author:

       Radek Knapp was born in Warsaw in 1964 and has lived in Austria since 1976.

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