Julya Rabinowich

Writer - Fiction

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Associate: Seren Adams


Julya Rabinowich was born in what used to be Leningrad, but has lived in Vienna, Austria since 1977. She studied painting, philosophy and translation and has established herself as a playwright, painter and writer. Her debut novel SPALTKOPF won the Rauriser Literaturpreis 2009 alongside several grants.  It was published in English by Portobello Books in 2011 under the title SPLITHEAD. Julya's second novel, HERZNOVELLE, was published by Deuticke in Austria in February 2011, followed by DIE ERDFESSERIN in 2012.

Her novel, KRÖTENLIEBE (TOAD LOVE), was published by Deuticke in March 2016.

Her last novel, DAZWISCHEN: ICH, was published by Hanser in August 2016.

Praise for SPLITHEAD (2011)

'A clever snappy novel suffused with comedy, proverbial wisdom and fairy tale' Guardian

'A vibrant narrative... her darkly humurous use of folk tale and family lore might recall Angela Carter' Metro

'Offers a thrilling glimpse of a period and place known to most of us principally through major figures and events' Jewish Chronicle






Publication DetailsNotes




Entanglements and longing, betrayal, genius, fetish and inspiration: the protagonists of a bizarre merry-go-round of desire, Alma Mahler, Oscar Kokoschka, and Paul Kammerer go to their limits, and beyond…

Alma Mahler’s childhood, Paul Kammerer’s unsolved suicide, and Oscar Kokoschka’s relationship with a life-size doll – Julya Rabinowich goes in search of longing – the insatiable longing that binds these three together.

Alma Mahler, the femme fatale who tries to make up for the loss of her father with a sheer unmanageable number of lovers, Paul Kammerer, the controversial founder of epigenetics, who took the secrets surrounding his toad experiments to his grave, Kokoschka, enfant terrible of the Viennese art scene who tries to get over his broken heart by means fair or foul. A fascinating remix of historical scandals and encounters between Venice, Dresden and Vienna at the turn of the (19th) century.

Others who inhabit these pages are Walter Gropius, the architect, Franz Werfel, the writer, Gustav Mahler etc, all husbands or lovers of the insatiable Alma. This short novel is a jewel – in trying to penetrate the secret of this strangely irresistible, sphynx-like woman in prose that is both hypnotic and intuitive, Julya Rabinowich also paints a lavish, highly atmospheric and thoroughly convincing portrait of fin-de-siècle Vienna, intellectual and artistic fulcrum of Europe and at the same time a pit of decadence…



A gripping novel about origins, the past, and European migration, told through the eyes of an Eastern European prostitute whose life unravels when her ‘catch’, an ill and retired policeman, dies.



The anonymous heroine undergoes heart surgery and, being gripped by a strange obsession, begins to stalk the surgeon who, quite literally, touched her heart


Portobello Books

The first English language translation of Rabinowich's great success SPALTKOPF.


Exil Verlag

A novel about exile, new departures and dead ends. Bewitching, refreshing and utterly unexpected.