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Portrait of Claudia Erdheim
by Nina Werzhbinskaja-Rabinowich

New Publication

Have You Gone Mad?

Bist du wahnsinnig geworden?

ISBN 978­3­7076­0626­3 (Edition 2018, Czernin Verlag)



Bist du wahnsinnig geworden?

‘Clautschi’ is growing up in post-war Vienna together with her older sister and mother, one of the first psychoanalysts and a communist with Jewish roots. She is torn between feeling proud of her clever and widely admired ’Frau Doktor’ and the challenging reality of having a completely overwhelmed mother.


The young girl is not allowed to go to nursery nor play with other children. She and her sister are tasked with household chores that are far too advanced for their age. The family is drowning – and Clautschi is exposed to her mother’s cases from work, which are often of a sexual nature.


Claudia Erdheim tells this story from the vantage point of an adult remembering the events of her childhood. She weaves an impressive portrait of an era, a city and an entire generation. Her debut novel is definitely worth discovering afresh.


‘You aren’t bathing! That is out of the question! Do whatever you want. Come home immediately, you will not spend the night at Elsa’s! I don’t care; do whatever you want. This is my apartment. The room will stay locked. Do not clean off the desk. I don’t want you to. The piano remains; we aren’t selling it. You can’t use that bowl for painting! Have you gone mad? You can’t eat outside! You must be out of your mind!’


This coming-of-age story is made all the more impressive by the years that have passed since Claudia Erdheim’s own childhood in 1950s Vienna – a source of inspiration for Bist du wahnsinnig geworden? – and the sobering, unsentimental account of the narrator. An entire generation, marked by the unprocessed realities of war, find their feet in this down-to-earth narrative.