By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Reading the Currents’
This year’s International Literature Festival Berlin (ILB) has announced a sprawling 10-day program that features 200 authors and a general grouping of events around three topics:
- Democracy and freedom, looking at “the causes of political mistakes” in the last 30 years;
- Seas and oceans, in the context of climate change; and
- Universe-origination theory led by Raoul Schrott and his book First Earth.
In terms of that first point, an event called the International Congress for Democracy and Freedom is being staged during LiteraturFestival, September 8 to 11, produced by the Peter Weiss Foundation. “Inspired by the First International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture, held in Paris in 1935, and the Russell Tribunal of 1966,” say organizers in their media materials, “the aim of the congress is to discuss the causes of the various political mistakes of recent decades and to compile ideas for the future.”
Authors, journalists and scientists are to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for democracy and freedom, in the course of the congress’ events, with speakers to include Can Dündar, Andre Wilkens, Daphne Büllesbach, Ulrike Guerot, Laurie Penny, Catherine Banner, Paul Mason, Arjun Appadurai, Geert Mak and Priya Basil.
Not unlike the tradition of the Hay Festival network of events, LiteraturFestival Berlin also mixes a strong component of science with its exploration of literature. Tickets for certain events in the program have begun selling here.
In its 11-day run, September 6 to 16, “Reading the Currents, Shifting Seas” will bring 11 authors into conversation with scientists as part of the Science Year 2016/17 initiative. These authors include:
- Lucien Deprijck (Germany);
- JoeAnn Hart (USA);
- Cormac James (Ireland/France);
- Merle Kröger (Germany);
- Lydia Millet (USA);
- Monique Roffey (Trinidad/UK);
- Will Self (UK); and
- Yoko Tawada (Japan/Germany).
Observing the 20th anniversary of Banipal, the magazine of modern Arabic literature, the festival will also feature Algerian author Amin Zaoui; UAE-born writer Mariam al-Saadi; Egyptian author and journalist Emad Fouad; Syrian poet Nouri al-Jarrah; and Veronika Dintinjana from Slovenia.
And a children’s literature-based effort brings together 34 books, 27 of them new, from 32 authors, illustrators, and scientists, including:
- Meg Rosoff (USA/UK);
- Alina Bronsky (Russia/Germany);
- Christian Duda (Austria/Germany);
- Rambharos Jha (India);
- Sebastian Meschenmoser (Germany);
- Levi Pinfold (UK/Australia);
- Christian Robinson (USA);
- Jenny Robson (South Africa/Botswana);
- Catarina Sobral (Portugal);
- Angie Thomas (USA);
- Øyvind Torseter (Norway);
- Jon Walter (UK); and
- Anna Woltz ( Netherlands).
In press materials, the organizers of LiteraturFestival write, “We’re particularly delighted to inform you of the book launch of our project Refugees Worldwide with Khaled Khalifa and Nora Bossong.”
The project was created last year “to convey experiences, impressions and information about the situation facing refugees in a European and global context.”
For the purposes of this part of the festival, 14 authors have written texts on the topic, each focusing on a single country. The anthology of reportage is to be published in German by Wagenbach Verlag and in English by Ragpicker Press.
The festival is to open on September 6 with a lecture from Turkey’s Elif Safak at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele and a presentation by Robert Menasse on his new novel, The Capital. On September 7, Man Booker Prize laureate Arundhati Roy of India is to make a presentation about her new work, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
The festival’s close is to feature Yasmina Reza of France on her new book, Babylon.
More information on the programming for this year’s International Literature Festival Berlin is here.