The 10th Anniversary Festival Neue Literatur: ‘In Memory We Trust’

In News by Porter Anderson

New York City’s Festival Neue Literatur reaches its first decade with a program set at five venues and featuring the work of contemporary German-language authors.

At the 2018 Festival Neue Literatur at New York’s Powerhouse Arena. Image: FNL, John Harris

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Six German-Language Authors, Two US Writers
In its 10th year, New York’s Festival Neue Literatur takes as its theme “In Memory We Trust,” and is curated by literary critic, writer, and translator, Liesl Schillinger and Tim Mohr, the German-language translator and author of Burning Down the Haus.

The 2019 festival will take place from March 29-31 and this year features:

  • Stefanie de Velasco (Germany) is a regular contributor to publications such as Zitty, FAZ, and die Zeit, and her debut novel, Tigermilch, was published in 2013 by Kiepenheuer & Witsch. It was translated into multiple languages, including English (as Tiger Milk), and adapted into a feature film.
  • Daniela Emminger (Austria) is the author of Kafka mit Flügeln and Gemischter Satz, the latter of which was longlisted for the Austrian Book Prize  in 2016. Emminger lives and works as a writer and freelance journalist in Vienna.
  • Laura Freudenthaler (Austria) is the author of the story collection Der Schädel der Madeleine, the novel Die Königin schweigt, which was awarded the Förderpreis zum Bremer Literaturpreis 2018 and recommended as best German debut at the Festival du Premier Roman 2018 in Chambéry. Freudenthaler has published her second novel this month, Geistergeschichte from Literaturverlag Droschl.
  • Dana Grigorcea (Switzerland) is the author of Baba Rada, Life is Temporary and So is The Hair on Your Head, which was awarded the Swiss Literary Pearl.  Grigorcea was awarded the 3sat Prize in Klagenfurt at the Ingeborg Bachmann competition 2015 for An Instinctive Feeling of Innocence, which is to be published in April 2019 by Seagull Books. (3sat is a German-language television network in Europe.)
  • Pierre Jarawan (Germany) has won international honors as a slam poet, received the City of Munich literary scholarship (the Bayerische Kunstförderpreis) for The Storyteller, to be published by World Editions in April 2019, and was chosen as Literature Star of the Year by the daily newspaper AZ.
  • Gianna Molinari (Switzerland) works as a programming assistant at the Solothurn Literary Forum. In 2012, Molinari received a grant to attend the authors’ workshop Prosa at the Literarischen Colloquium Berlin and won the jury prize and audience prize at the 17th MDR Literary Competition that same year. In 2017, she won the 3sat Prize in Klagenfurt for an excerpt from her debut novel, Everything Is Still Possible Here.

Each year, the festival pairs the six visiting authors with two US authors. This year’s American writers are Min Jin Lee, award-winning novelist and author of Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko¸ which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Jenny Zhang, poet and author of the poetry collection Dear Jenny, We Are All Find, and the story collection Sour Heart, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

As Publishing Perspectives has reported, the Friedrich Ulfers Prize will be presented at the festival’s opening ceremony on March 28 to Susan Bernofsky, director of the program Literary Translation at Columbia in the Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program. Novelist and New Yorker contributor Rivka Galchen will present Bernofsky with the award.

The Festival Neue Literatur annually highlights work from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, and is a collaborative project of New York’s leading German-language cultural institutions. They include the Austrian Cultural Forum; the German Consulate General New York; the Consulate General of Switzerland; Columbia University School of the Arts; Deutsches Haus at NYU; Frankfurt Book Fair New York; and the Goethe-Institut New York.

Events in the 2019 Festival Neue Literatur

At the 2018 Festival Neue Literatur at New York’s Goethe-Institut. Image: FNL, John Harris

Friday, March 29, 6 p.m., Austrian Cultural Forum (11 East 52nd Street, Manhattan)
Words with Writers. New York students talk with authors in a round of literary interviews with all six German-language authors.

Saturday, March 30, 2 p.m., Goethe-Institut Library (30 Irving Place, Manhattan)
Double Lives: Writers Who Translate. The festival’s signature translation event returns and pays homage to writers who translate and translators who write. With Idra Novey, John Keene, and Jennifer Croft, moderated by Karen Phillips of Words Without Borders.

Saturday, March 30, 6 p.m., The Powerhouse Arena (28 Adams Street, Brooklyn)
Another Country: Distant Lands Up Close and Personal. How does the interplay of geography and time alter the identity of a person, a character, a city, a nation? With Daniela Emminger, Pierre Jarawan, Dana Grigorcea, and Min Jin Lee, moderated by Liesl Schillinger.

Sunday, March 31, 2 p,m., Deutsches Haus at NYU (42 Washington Mews, Manhattan)
The Author’s Voice. The six German-language authors pair with NYC actors to give a sampling of their work. Moderated by Tim Mohr, with English excerpts read by actors Adelind Horan and Robert Lyons.

Sunday, March 31, 6 p.m., McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street, Manhattan)
Ghosts in the Machine: Haunted Memories and Reimagined Futures. How would living under Communism have shaped your identity? With Laura Freudenthaler, Gianna Molinari, Stefanie de Velasco and Jenny Zhang, Moderated by novelist and Festival Neue Literatur chair John Wray.

All events are free of charge, but RSVPs are required because seating is limited. Festival Neue Literatur 2019 is made possible with support from the German Federal Foreign Office, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the German Academic Exchange (DAAD), Esterhazy Winery, and Radeberger Gruppe, as well festival media sponsors A Public Space, Publishing Perspectives, STILL Magazine, The Virtual Memories Show, and Words Without Borders.

Each year, the festival publishes the FNL Reader, a booklet featuring English-language excerpts of the featured German-language works, often marking the first appearance of these texts in English. The 2019 FNL Reader will be available for download in March in an electronic version on the festival site.

At the 2018 Festival Neue Literatur in New York City. Image: FNL, John Harris

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.