“A Beautiful Foreigner's Child”: Toxisch Fries's First Novel

When a social media star and cabaret artist publishes a novel called “A Beautiful Foreigner's Child” under her stage name Toxische Fries, it raises certain expectations. But instead of mundane comments about the daily life of an immigrant, which you can only take with humor and otherwise threaten to tear you apart, you can expect a real discussion about the costs of uprooting and new beginnings. “A Beautiful Foreign Child” is a nice surprise.

Irina, who did not want her surname to be published, and who fled the Yugoslav war with her parents to Austria when she was two, has done just that: she is well-integrated, works as a lawyer in Vienna and has a large fan base. His cabaret show “Ketchup, Mayo & Ajvar – The Seven Deadly Sins of Foreigners” is touring the country on TikTok and Instagram. Her first book tells the story of starting a second life in a new home, and the author emphasizes that it is not an autobiography, but an autobiographical novel.

The book tells a tragic success story. It is full of obvious contradictions and sad humor. “What did Austria cost us? My father's voice, my mother her vivacity. And me? My father,” the last sentences are heart-wrenching as you remember the little girl your father always took with him. “My son” or “little son”, and for a long time I saw him as my most important reference person and closest friend. “A Beautiful Foreigner's Child” is a coming-of-age novel and the story of a crumbling father-daughter relationship.

Three family members who arrive in Wiener Neustadt one night begin their new lives from very different starting positions. Both parents are academics, but cannot work in their traditional professions. While the father is out looking for work, the mother helps the host as a cleaner and cook. His wife undergoes a rigorous process of nostrification and finally gets a good job in pharmaceutical research, and soon he turns all his energies inward: he takes care of the house and the well-being of his daughter, who is at school. and model immigrant.

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As she grows older, her father, who lovingly takes care of everything, is perceived as a burden. He lacks social connections, speaks poor German, and only becomes an independent, confident personality when he goes home for the summer. When he loses a parent-child swimming competition at the swimming club, the daughter explodes: “Why don't you finally go back to Croatia,” the daughter tearfully yells at him (in Croatian), “I'm ashamed of myself.”

Contrary to expectations, the father did not fail the citizenship and language tests – how he passes remains a family secret. Eventually, the immigrants became an Austrian family. The question of whether it is worth it cannot be clearly answered. “A Beautiful Foreigner's Child” presents a profit-and-loss calculation that doesn't try to cheat anything. It's definitely a hit with readers.

(By Wolfgang Huber-Long/ABA)

(Service – Poisonous Fries: “The Child of a Beautiful Foreigner”, 208 pages, Zsolnay Verlag, 23.70 euros; Readings: April 2, Heine Bookstore, Klagenfurt, April 4 April 10 Cinema Paradiso, St. Bolton, 11.4., Vienna Museum, 15.4. Literaturhaus Cross, 17.4. Vienna Main Library)

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