The cornerstone of his novels have appeared so far are foreign countries and their cultures. Even he has never visited Mexico and Germany before the completion of the books. A topographic- realistic representation can thus never been his goal. He seemed to be a matter rather to take the language of their wirklichkeitskonstituierende power. Fascinated by the strangeness of the place, and the readers are influenced by these feelings and tied it. Both the fascination of foreign topographies and built character of the texts can be explained biographically.
As a child of a Jewish merchant family in Vienna Walter Abish left after the "Anschluss " of Austria to the German Reich in 1938 his home. The family emigrated to Italy and Nice in 1940 to Shanghai; it was also possible without a visa. She left China in 1949 and then lived in Israel, where Walter Abish also performed military service. He went to England in 1956 and in 1957 settled in the United States. He is an American citizen since 1960. Abish taught at Columbia University, Brown University and Yale University.
A study of architecture in Israel may perhaps explain why his Houses of Fiction ( Henry James ) constructed as shown on the drawing board designs seem. For the novel How German Is It - How German is it Abish was honored with the PEN / Faulkner Award.
Abish is married to the photographer and conceptual artist Cecile Abish, with whom he published the book 99, the New Meaning. From it is also the cover of How German Is It
In 1987 he was MacArthur Fellow.
- Duel Site, Tibor de Nagy Editions, New York, 1970. Poems, 28 pp., in 300 copies.
- Alphabetical Africa, New Directions, New York, 1974 Alphabetical Africa = Alphabetical Africa, translated by Jürg Laederach, Urs Engeler Verlag, Basel, 2002
- This is no accident. Narratives 1971 - 1975, Hohenheim Edition Maschke, Cologne 1982 Repr as: This is no coincidence, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1987.
- Across the great nothingness, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1983
- In the English Garden, Fiction International, No. 4 /5, 1975, p 35-49
- The Idea of Switzerland, Partisan Review, vol 47, 1980, pp. 57-81. ( Preliminary work )
- 99, the new meaning, Literary Colloquium Berlin, Berlin, 1990
- Sun fever, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1994
- Self-Portrait. In: Individuals: Post- Movement Art in America, Alan Sondheim (ed.), Dutton, New York, 1977.
- The Writer - To-Be: An Impression of Living. In: Sub - Stance, No. 27, 1980
- Jerome Klinkowitz, The Life of Fiction, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 59-71.
- How German Is It, Semiotext ( e), No. 4, 1982