In Search of Self and Australia in Andrew Riemer's The Habsburg Cafe 42


  • Ivan Maver


 On a lovely January afternoon in Sydney, while sipping tea in the ornately decorated lobby of the Mitchell Library, I was introduced by a mutual friend to a rather short balding man with a stern look and an undefinable fire in his eyes: he was Andrew Riemer, who like the rest of us crowd attended the New South Wales Writers' conference in 1995. I immediately recognized him as the author of my recently purchased book discussed here, The Habsburg Cafe (1993), a travelogue recounting his voyage through some of the countries of Central Europe, Austria and Hungary, the area to which, as regards its habits, food, architecture and the like, also belongs my native country Slovenia. This is why it probably caught my attention on the bookshelf, for I was most curious to see the former countries of the Habsburg and the later Austro-Hungarian monarchy through the eyes of both an outsider and an insider to the region, the fine observation of a Hungarian-born, migrant Australian author, Andrew Riemer.