Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 German Book Splurge

This last year, the Goethe Institut managed to spend the 10% of its translation-funding budget reserved for English-language publications in its entirety, for the first time. The Swiss and Austrians have been no less industrious, I'm sure. We'll be seeing some of the fruits of that development in 2013, a few of which I have dredged together for you here. This list makes no claim to completion, especially as some publishers don't make it that easy to see what books they have coming up. It includes books published in the the UK and the US.

But there's certainly one clear trend (sorry, Susan): crime and thrillers. I already mentioned Nele Neuhaus's Snow White Must Die, translated by Stephen T. Murray and out in January from Minotaur. That's joined by cult crime author Wolf Haas' The Bone Man in March from Melville House, trans. Annie Janusch, and Max Landorff's rather fun The Fixer sometime soon from Haus (and I'm not sure who the translator is). And a big fat sci-fi thriller looms in June from Frank Schätzing at Quercus, Limit, translated by Shaun Whiteside, Jamie Lee Searle and Samuel P. Willcocks.

The next trend is not terribly new but still going strong: classics. Pushkin Press have a new Stefan Zweig, Journey into the Past, trans. Anthea Bell, out in January, paired with Letters from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories. And then Haus gives us a new old biblical Thomas Mann, The Tables of the Law, in April, trans. Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann. My favourites will be Anna Seghers' Transit in a new translation by Margot Bettauer Dembo from NYRB Classics in May and Franz Fühmann's amazing collection The Jew Car, translated by Isabel Cole and published by Seagull Books, also May. Plus, Granta Books are kicking off the year with a Joseph Roth frenzy, releasing Michael Hofmann's translation of The Emperor's Tomb along with a "striking new edition" of The Radetzky March and a collection of letters. And almost a classic, or at least not new, is Birgit Vanderbeke's The Mussel Feast, trans. Jamie Bulloch, out in February from Peirene Press, one of those books everyone's always telling you you have to read.

Which leaves all the rest, mainly light-ish contemporary fiction. My highlight would probably be Eugen Ruge's excellent In Times of Fading Light, due in Anthea Bell's translation from Faber & Faber in June. Haus has another interwoven-fates-type affair in April, Sabine Gruber's Roman Elegy, trans. Peter Lewis. NYRB starts the year with the very well acclaimed On the Edge by Markus Werner, trans. Robert E. Goodwin. April sees the UK release of Peter Stamm's We're Flying, trans. Michael Hofmann, from Granta Books again, although it's been out in the US for a while now. And Atlantic have gone German-crazy: Katharina Hagena's lively debut The Taste of Appleseeds, trans. Jamie Bulloch, in January, with Martin Suter's mega-hit The Chef (trans. Jamie Bulloch) hot on its heels in February, Susann Pásztor's A Fabulous Liar (trans. Shaun Whiteside) in April and a fun paperback from Frauke Scheunemann, Puppy Love (trans. Shelley Frisch) out then too. Quercus has more contemporary fiction: the light follow-up to Love Virtually, Daniel Glattauer's Every Seventh Wave, translated by husband-and-wife team Jamie "busy man" Bulloch and Katharina Bielenberg comes out in January. And the translators have put their heads together again for Daniela Krien's debut novel Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything, out in June and probably the book I'm most curious about on this list. And then don't forget - but how could you? - Charlotte Roche's backlash mummy porn Wrecked, translated by Tim Mohr (presumably not while on tour with KISS) from Grove Atlantic in May.

A short list of my translations forthcoming in 2013: Inka Parei's masterpiece set in 1977 Germany, What Darkness Was, apparently in May from Seagull Books but if you're in India you should be able to get it in January. Sibylle Lewitscharoff's raucously beautiful anti-Bulgaria tirade Apostoloff, also Seagull Books, in June apparently. And Simon Urban's Plan D from Harvill Secker in July.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

MacLehose and Stone on Crime

My friend Susan Stone has a great piece at PRI's The World today about why German thrillers aren't popular in the States - and one that just might break that mould, Nele Neuhaus's mega-selling (in Germany) Snow White Must Die.

And then there's a long profile in the Guardian (by Nicholas Wroe) of the British editor Christopher MacLehose, now of MacLehose Press, who Susan interviewed in Frankfurt but got edited out in the end. He's the man, they tell us, who brought Stieg Larsson into English, and had "come to the conclusion that he should confine himself to translated works, preferably featuring a policeman with a forensic element – although he did make an exception for Godfather author Mario Puzo."

Both fascinating.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


In 1976 Anais Nin wrote about her 1940s erotica: -->
At the time we were all writing erotica at a dollar a page, I realized that for centuries we had had only one model for this literary genre—the writing of men. I was already conscious of a difference between the masculine and feminine treatment of sexual experience. I knew that there was a great disparity between Henry Miller's explicitness and my ambiguities—between his humorous, Rabelaisian view of sex and my poetic descriptions of sexual relationships in the unpublished portions of the diary. As I wrote in Volume Three of the Diary, I had a feeling that Pandora's box contained the mysteries of woman's sensuality, so different from man's and for which man's language was inadequate.
Women, I thought, were more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love, and to single out one man rather than be promiscuous. This became apparent to me as I wrote the novels and the Diary, and I saw it even more clearly when I began to teach. But although women's attitude towards sex was quite distinct from that of men, we had not yet learned how to write about it.
Here in the erotica I was writing to entertain, under pressure from a client who wanted me to "leave out the poetry." I believed that my style was derived from a reading of men's works. For this reason I long felt that I had compromised my feminine self. I put the erotica aside. Rereading it these many years later, I see that my own voice was not completely suppressed. In numerous passages I was intuitively using a woman's language, seeing sexual experience from a woman's point of view. I finally decided to release the erotica for publication because it shows the beginning efforts of a woman in a world that had been the domain of men.
If the unexpurgated version of the Diary is ever published, this feminine point of view will be established more clearly. It will show that women (and I, in the Diary) have never separated sex from feeling, from love of the whole man.
I would argue against the existence of a "woman's language" in the strict sense - after all, each writer uses the same basic linguistic toolkit, regardless of their gender. However, I agree that women have a different perspective on sex, albeit a shifted one from that of the 1940s in particular and even 1976. As I mentioned in a previous review of Anna Blumbach's Kurze Nächte, women writing literary fiction in German tend to close the bedroom door, aside from describing traumatic sexual experiences. I still don't know why that is, in a culture that has dealt with sexuality very openly for two or three generations.

Yet not unlike Anais Nin, Germany's women writers can now make a buck or two on the side with erotica published in a couple of imprints, notably Heyne Hardcore and Anais. Not long ago, I met the former series editor at Anais - you can read a piece about her and the imprint here - and she told me she'd written her master's thesis on women and masturbation and was really pleased to be able to publish erotica written specially by women, for women. Which I think isn't new as such (remember those teenage under-the-covers sessions with Virginia Andrews and Jilly Cooper? Or was that just me?) - just that Anais's books aim to be more realistic and the marketing is more explicit. As I put it in the previous review, they're literary jazz-mags for girls, and proud of it.

So my friend Anna Blumbach gave me her latest, Glitzerregen, and another friend also recommended Lulu Bachmann's Geschlechtsteilchen. Prompting an enjoyable road-test comparison of style and technique in women's erotica, certain aspects of which I shall sum up for you here. You're welcome.

Glitzerregen follows on from Anna's previous novel, again narrated by semi-single mother Eva. She starts pretty much as she left off in Kurze Nächte, clubbing, battling the job centre, enjoying sex with sundry attractive partners. That section of the book was a little frustrating at times - cut to the quick, Eva! I wanted to tell her, especially because we got only one sex scene and that was totally censored. Confused? Oh yes, I was. But luckily things take a turn for the better for Eva and her libidinous readers when she starts a project to build an ecologically autark house - and her long-term occasional lover Tom pops up while her son's away.

Cue ravishing amounts of amazing sex in countless locations, accompanied by soul-searching over whether relationships are a good thing for her. Anna Blumbach writes extremely well about sex. Her descriptions are precise and arousing and realistic and entertaining, and it's easy to visualise exactly what's going on. I think that's a very good thing in erotica. All embedded in a modern Berlin story with authentic backdrops and emotions, a political message, a feminist standpoint and even a soundtrack if you like that kind of thing. Read both the books for double the fun. Interestingly, Anna Blumbach shows how far we've come since Anais Nin's days by making her Eva a firm proponent of promiscuity.

And so to Lulu Bachmann's Geschlechtsteilchen. It's a collection of short stories, some slightly skirting the issue at hand, others full-on erotica. What most of them have in common is that they're slightly silly. A Cinderella not censored by the Brothers Grimm. A special birthday present of serial sex in bathtubs filled with – wait and see. A super-macho dog-trainer who enjoys – well, read that one yourself. Most of them passed the practice test; all of them were well-written and entertaining. At times I had the bizarre sensation of laughing out loud while reading porn. But I certainly enjoyed that because I do find sex very comical at times.

Lulu Bachmann's book, I kept thinking, is not unlike if Caitlin Moran had written girl-porn. Assertive female characters having a lot of fun but also plenty of arguments with their partners, honest and punctuated by excellent punchlines. In comparison to Blumbach, her descriptions aren't as explicit but the book offers the compensation of bizarre plots and outright comedy. Bachmann explodes Nin's suggestion that Henry Miller's humorous approach was due to his gender. And while she employs what Nin describes as "ambiguities" and ascribes as a female trait, Blumbach and a host of other women writers have proved that explicitness is by no means limited to men's writing.

I haven't read Shades of Grey because I'm a literary snob, but I'm told it's not very good for two reasons: the writing and the gender relations. If you read German, here are two options that have those two posts covered. In other words, neither of them leave out their own particular brand of poetry. What I'd like now is for women writing literary fiction in German to be equally open about sexuality under their own names as under pseudonyms. I know I find a little erotica within a literary novel a delightful thing, and I'd love to read that from a woman's perspective. A challenge, I realise.

How To "Best Of"

Having poured disdain on "best books of 2012" lists, I've now found one I admire. By admire I mean it makes me feel small and unworthy because its author obviously reads with incredible taste and discernment. She's Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times and she presents not a list of translated fiction, not a list of Irish fiction, not even a list of fiction but "the books that made the greatest impression on her in 2012". It is wonderful.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Best Stuff of 2012

Last year I came up with the fabulous idea of writing not a best books list but a best stuff list. The reason being that I find it hard to single out a random number of books as "the best". That still applies, so hey! Here comes a random number of phenomena that I appreciated in 2012. Fanfare, etc.

Best new publisher
Has to be Frisch & Co., who will be bringing out their first titles in 2013. E-books only, translations only, excellent books only, giving a chance to the ones that got away. OK, so one of those titles is Uwe Tellkamp's Der Turm, not my favourite ever, but I know a lot of other people are very excited about that indeed.

Best old publisher
Duh. Seagull Books, of course, going from strength to strength with Mo Yan on their list and publisher Naveen Kishore winning the Goethe Medal for all-round greatness in German eyes. Also they've arranged for Inka Parei, Dorothee Elmiger and myself to go on a mini tour of India in January. So obviously they can do no wrong.

Best German publishing person
I was totally inspired this year by Elisabeth Ruge, whom I saw speaking at the equally inspiring Litflow conference thing, and also on an interesting panel in Leipzig. This is a woman with two children who co-founded a publishing house (Berlin Verlag), then left when owner Bloomsbury started treating it shabbily and is now heading Hanser Berlin - which has a solid mix of established authors such as Ingo Schulze and Richard Ford, debuts, poetry and commercially successful titles. In person, I found her compassionate and capable, forward-looking and impassioned. If I ever actually meet her I shall blush and shrink and stutter in fawning awe.

Best publishing party
I didn't go to so many publishing parties this year, despite really wanting to be invited to many many parties. If you read this, publishers, don't forget to invite me next year. I guarantee to wear a spectacular dress and dance at least a little bit, and to get a little bit too drunk and reveal intimate things about myself that nobody wanted to know. So I'm the perfect guest for your publishing party. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who was at the Book Fair a go-go party at Frankfurt, which was my best publishing party of the year. Honourable mention goes to the New Books in German party in London, which was easily the swankiest event I've ever attended and yet still friendly, just without any dancing.

Best translation-related event
Five Dials! Not only a free magazine packed to the gills with German-language writers, but they also had a party and let me read, wear a spectacular dress, etc. Delightful people to work with, excellent magazine. People have now started telling me that translated literature is hip, and I suspect it's all their fault.

Best-dressed German writers
Daniela Dröscher, who totally rocks leopard print, closely followed by Rabea Edel. Seeing the two of them together nearly seared my retinas.

Best things I did this year
Moving house, And Other Stories reading group, BCLT summer school, translating Simon Urban's Plan D

Things I'm looking forward to next year
This may surprise you but I'm looking forward to Margot Bettauer Dembo's new translation of Anna Seghers' 1944 masterpiece Transit. And also I'm looking forward to translated literature being hip, because that would make me the co-godmother of hip. I intend to hang out with awesome, talented, passionate people and read fantastic books, I intend to think deep thoughts about how to be a better translator, and I intend to carry on blogging as my time allows.  

Monday, 17 December 2012

Leselampe - the Virtual Elevator Pitch

Now obviously I'm only telling you about this because I'm featured this week, but you still ought to know about Leselampe. It's a collection of virtual elevator pitches by people from the world of German letters - editors, writers, translators, friends and familiar faces and people you're sure you've seen somewhere before. And everyone gets to recommend a book in 200 characters. Really, you can spend hours rooting about in there, especially because it goes all the way back to 2006. A very sweet feature on the Literaturport site run out of the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, one of my favourite places.

Many thanks to Lucy Renner-Jones for the photo. You can read the longer review of the book I recommend here. It seemed appropriately glittery for the season.

Friday, 14 December 2012


So many wonderful initiatives to help you - yes, you! - get a start as a literary translator. Now New Books in German has announced its next Emerging Translators' Programme. If you've not yet published a book-length translation or taken part in the programme before, you can apply between now and 18 January by submitting a short translation of a text by Julia Schoch. If you're good enough, you'll be invited to a workshop in London and commissioned with a sample translation for a German-language publisher. Here's what they say:
The focus is on interaction and exchange: a translation competition is held to select the six participants, and the successful candidates attend a translation workshop with leading translator Shaun Whiteside. A dedicated web forum allows the participants to share their queries and draft translations with each other before and after the workshop, pooling useful resources for translation and offering advice and tips on their draft translations. Each translator works particularly closely with one other participant, who advises on the final translation, which is also edited by NBG editor Charlotte Ryland.
I think this is such a fantastic idea. I know several people who've participated in the past and got a hell of a lot out of it. Thumbs up to Charlotte for coming up with the programme.  

First GBO Translation Prize to Kurt Beals

Read more at Translationista and Publishing Perspectives, but how could I not pay my dues to Kurt Beals for winning the German Book Office's first ever translation competition. I met Kurt in Berlin this spring and am glad to see it confirmed that he's a fine translator.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

German Publishing Excitement

Two publishing things, one of which I don't even remotely comprehend. And that is: Suhrkamp. As far as I understand it, the minority shareholder wants to get rid of the majority shareholder, who actually runs the place. And because she hired out her private home to the publishing house at a hefty fee, the courts have ordered her to pay €280,000 to the company in damages. And for another reason that I don't understand, the courts have removed her from the board, I think. Only she's appealing, so she's still there. Most people seem to be rather flummoxed by it all, but let's hope they sort it out and carry on making good books. Apparently the litigious minority dude is willing to negotiate. If you're a Bookseller subscriber, this piece may shed more light on the matter.

Update: wonderfully as ever, Amanda DaMarco sums up the situation at Publishing Perspectives.

The other thing is easy: Michael Krüger, head honcho at Germany's other super-highbrow publishing house Hanser, is retiring at the end of next year. You may remember his comments about the difficulties of finding a replacement last year, if only because they were incredibly sexist. Elisabeth Ruge, he said at the time, was unsuitable because she had two children. So now they've announced who'll be replacing him as managing director, and it's Jo Lendle. Yes, that Jo Lendle, the good-book-writing boss-man at DuMont Verlag. Jo Lendle, as far as I'm aware, has two children. Not that I don't think he deserves it, but still, I felt I ought to point it out.

Update: I just realised: it wasn't up to Krüger who got the job anyway. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Lowest Common Denominator Marketing? That's What Friends Are For

You might be on Facebook, dear reader. You might "like" German publishers. You might be amazed at some of the things they get up to there.

It's not so much the persistent cat content-level crap - the photos of wacky bookshelves, the "Today is international chocolate day. Thumbs up who likes chocolate!!! ;-)"-type like-grabbing that makes publishers look interchangeable with any other commercial enterprise. Because let's face it, many publishers are interchangeable with any other commercial enterprise. I think what bothers me most is the apparent need to get in your face at least once a day, regardless of whether they have anything to report. You'll often get news-related posts, which aren't always well thought out. My favourites so far have been "International Writers in Prison Day - buy our calendar" and "Hurricane Sandy floods New York - buy our book about New York subway stations". I'm waiting for "Bubonic Plague hits Calcutta - buy our book on beautiful Indian textiles".

I'm noticing this extra specially much at the moment, because it's advent. The Germans make a big fucking deal out of advent. You're supposed to make decorations out of fir trees and candles and hang them on your front door. You're supposed to know how many Sundays there are until your annual church visit on Christmas Eve and count them down using more candles and fir trees, wishing people a "good second Sunday before Christmas" in a cheery way. And of course you're supposed to have an advent calendar, preferably one you made yourself when you were six out of raffia and cotton wool. Good parents will put little healthy treats in 24 cloth bags on a string for their healthy children. So of course good publishers want to give their Facebook fans saccharine crap once a day throughout December.

Now I'm not naming names here, but you'd be surprised at the levels to which publishers I'd previously considered highbrow will sink. They'd have you making up rhymes and guessing the number of chocolates left in the box and sending in photos of your cat in order to win a free book. Publishing people! Just because we're pathetically addicted to social networking, you don't have to treat us like idiots! Actually, there is an exception to prove the rule (now that was the turn of phrase I was looking for last time): Literaturverlag Droschl, which is giving us tiny soundbites from its books once a day. Like.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Categories and Generations

I was talking to someone about whether we can put writers working in German into categories and generations. We didn't get down to the nitty-gritty of definitions, but I rejected the idea of putting writers - rather than writing - into categories. My example was that there are various fairly young women originally from the former Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia now writing in German - Olga Grjasnowa, Nino Haratischwili, Marjana Gaponenko, Marianna Salzmann, Alina Bronsky, Julya Rabinowich, Lena Gorelik, and several more whose names refuse to occur to me right now. Yet despite all they have in common on a biographical level, their common gender, age group and similar childhood experiences, their writing is very different. And yes, I know I'm simplifying the matter by lumping Yugoslavia in with the Soviet bloc. But still, I don't think biographical categories make a great deal of sense when we look at what people are actually writing.

Generations, however, are a concept I can work with. What we talked about - for a Norwegian radio feature, of all things - was that there's a very dominant generation of German writers in the outside perception of the literature. Those canonised Group 47-era old or dead white men (mostly), who everybody interested in international writing has read: Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, maybe Martin Walser, Siegfried Lenz. The postwar generation who defined themselves in opposition to what came before them, broadly speaking, and whose books we all had to read at university. And I said I think there are two other generations who suffer from that dominance. Those who followed on from them and those who are coming up now. And it's that squeezed middle generation that has it the hardest, I think.

Because the youngest and the young generation, the kids coming out of the creative writing schools and graduating and getting their debut novels signed up and the thirty-and-forty-somethings doing exciting but not exaggeratedly exciting things - I think they don't give a shit about Günter Grass. I think he's a figure of fun for them; they might have read him but they don't feel the need to react to his work in any way other than the odd snarky Facebook comment. Their influences are far wider and more international; if they feel the need to position themselves on Germany's past it might be in a less self-accusatory way like in the work of Kevin Vennemann or Tanja Dückers or even, less to my taste, Christian Kracht. And they have youth on their side; they get their column inches boosted by big colour photos and they get fawned over and projected onto by the older critics.

But the poor fifty-and-sixty-somethings - oh boy! They're always going to be in old Günter's shade. There was an article in yesterday's Die Welt criticising just that demographic. And aside from berating the men on the brink of retirement age, Tilman Krause actually compares them unfavourably - no, not to the Group 47 actually, but to Thomas Mann. As if Thomas Mann were the only valid benchmark. What Krause says, however, is interesting. He picks out three writers and puts them in the pillory for writing unadventurous, uninteresting, commercially successful schlock: Ralf Rothmann (I don't agree), Georg Klein and Alain Claude Sulzer. Perhaps, and this is only my theory, once you're facing your sixtieth, you might feel too old to change jobs and you might be stuck having to write and you might not be churning out your most innovative stuff.

The proof of the pudding is of course in the exception. Is that what we say? Never mind. There are plenty of exceptions, two of which Krause hands us on a plate: Sibylle Lewitscharoff and Rainald Goetz. But cf. also: Thomas Lehr, Peter Wawerzinek, Reinhard Jirgl, Ingo Schulze, perhaps Uwe Timm, perhaps Monika Maron. I feel I'm skating on thin ice here in a way, hence all the qualifications. Because yes, I do think the idea of writerly generations is a useful one, in that people writing in one time and place do have something in common but the concept doesn't presume that they're all doing the same thing. At the same time, I notice I'm hesitating over who to put into which generation. Maybe I just don't want to be rude.

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Love German Books Seasonal Gift List 2012

You can gauge the progress of my Christmas shopping by the date I post this list every year. I may be cutting it a bit fine this time around. But here is a list of books translated from German to English that came out this year, all of which I can genuinely and honestly recommend. Those I haven't read personally, I still recommend because I know people who've loved them. Most of it is contemporary fiction, predictably enough perhaps. So now you too can bombard friends and relatives with Teutonic yuletide treats.

For the very literary: -->
Herta Müller: The Hunger Angel, trans. Philip Boehm

For the slightly silly:
Walter Moers: The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books, trans. John Brownjohn

For the rythmically inclined:
Thomas Lehr: September, trans. Mike Mitchell

For romantic souls:
Katharina Hagena: The Taste of Apple Seeds, trans. Jamie Bulloch

For Hanuka: 
Benjamin Stein: The Canvas, trans. Brian Zumhagen

For odd crime fans:
Wolf Haas: Brenner and God, trans. Annie Janusch

For walkers:
Christoph Simon: Zbinden’s Progress, trans. Donal McLaughlin

For reluctant travellers:
Sibylle Lewitscharoff: Apostoloff, trans. Katy Derbyshire

For Marxist genre-busters:
Dietmar Dath: The Abolition of Species, trans. Samuel Willcocks

For the unhappy:
Hansjörg Schertenleib: A Happy Man, trans. David Dollenmeyer

For the philosophical:
Peter Sloterdijk: The Art of Philosophy, trans. Karen Margolis

For Berlin fans (older):
Robert Walser: Berlin Stories, trans. Susan Bernofsky

For Berlin fans (younger):
Helene Hegemann: Axolotl Roadkill, trans. Katy Derbyshire

For poetry people:
Anja Utler: engulf - enkindle, trans. Kurt Beals

And if nothing takes your fancy, you can always look back at the lists from 2010 and 2011. No shopping list is complete, I'm sure you'll agree, without at least one German book on it.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Five Dials 26 Launched

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. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

And Another Thing: Do Mention the War

I forgot: if you read German, you can read my collected thoughts about German-language writing in the UK in the taz. But it's basically everything I've been saying here for the past few years.

And Other Stories Reading Group Mark II

This announcement comes a little late, perhaps, but you know what they say.

We have another reading group up and running in Berlin and London for the world's most exciting publishing project, And Other Stories. The idea, in case you don't know, is that we read three books written in German with the aim of recommending one of them for translation. This time we collected suggestions from all kinds of people and came up with three titles:

Silke Scheuermann: Die Stunde zwischen Hund und Wolf

Antje Rávic Strubel: Sturz der Tage in die Nacht

Katrin Röggla: die alarmbereiten

We, uh, already started without you - but the next Berlin meeting is to discuss book 2, on 10 December, followed by book 3 on 14 January in Berlin - and the London meeting is also on 14 January. Last time around we were really pleased to receive a good deal of comments online, and it'd be great if people could do that again. So here's all the information in one place to help you with that. We'd need your opinions by 14 January.

If you are in Berlin, we have reading copies and PDFs and our meetings are quite short and always a totally nerdy pleasure. They're mostly in English but not exclusively so, and we'd love it if you came along. My partner-in-crime Amanda DaMarco explained how it all works in Publishing Perspectives