Go to Five Dials now and download their issue number 26. It's full of goodies translated out of German. Read it, all through, and then come back here.
My head is hurting. I went back and reread this piece I wrote about how public appearances make me feel like I've been beaten and bruised. And hey, this one was better. I apologise, however, to everyone I talked to at the launch party. If I talked to you before I read I wasn't actually listening, sorry. I was wetting my pants because there seemed to be about a thousand people there, all of whom were about to judge my translation and my reading skills and my hairstyle. If I talked to you after I read I was surfing my adrenaline wave and fishing for compliments to reassure me that actually, nobody apart from the front row could tell my hands were shaking so much the words on the page went all blurry. The overwhelming impression I shall retain of the evening is one of people I didn't quite recognise, or had never met at all, knowing who I was and being very friendly while I squinted and wondered who they were and what on earth I could possibly say to them.
There was a launch party. It was very British. There were five short readings by Jan Brandt, Clare Wigfall, Judith Schalansky, Joe Dunthorne and myself (reading a top story by Tilman Rammstedt). I remember very little about them but Nikola Richter has summed it all up for you already, with photos. As has Lucy Renner-Jones, in English this time. There was drinking and chatting and socialising but sadly for the DJ, Anglo-German phenomenon Anika, no actual dancing. Thanks are due, at this point at the very latest, to my friends in the audience who whooped and screamed after my reading. It helped.
And here's one thing I hope this Five Dials issue will do: I hope it will introduce Berlin's very lively ex-pat literary scene to Germany's indigenous writers. I hope this taste of some of the great stuff happening in German will get them hooked, get them reading books in translation and possibly even in German, maybe encourage them to make more effort to speak and read the language, perhaps make the literary exchange between English and German writing less of a one-way street. Certainly that scene was out in full force last night, in all its infinite charm.