This interview with Budapest-based American author Olen Steinhauer originally appeared in the ‘Wall Street Journal Europe’ in 2008. At the time, Olen was a modestly successful author of a series of thrillers set at various intervals in the Eastern bloc during the communist period. I discovered a couple of his novels one day by accident while scrounging through a bookstore in Vienna and was instantly hooked. This interview covered those Eastern European thrillers. Since our conversation, he’s gone from strength to strength, and is now better known for his ‘Milo Weaver’ books, including ‘The Tourist,’ which became a New York Times bestseller.
The 1989 Revolutions brought down the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, yet among many a feeling of nostalgia persists for those seemingly simpler times. No one seriously wants to turn back the clock, and former Cold War haunts like Prague and Budapest have never looked better, but there is a lingering romance about those spooky pre-’89 days.
American author Olen Steinhauer’s recent series of spy thrillers—all set in a fictionalized East European country during the Cold War—is a thoroughly enjoyable trip down memory lane. As you turn the pages (in the comfort of your armchair), you can almost smell the acrid sharpness of an East European cigarette or hear the rapid retort of a two-stroke Trabant being kick-started in the distance. Read More →