The Circus’s Nina Dörner interviewed our fiction editor, Florian Duijsens, about the Berlin Writing Prize, the meaning of home, and how the winner can spend a focused winter in Berlin (while staying for free at the Circus Hotel).
This is the second time SAND has been involved with The Reader Berlin’s annual writing prize. How did you develop your work together?
The English-language literary scene in Berlin is as welcoming as it is tightly knit, and Victoria is a key figure in this community, organizing events, retreats, and classes, and generally being a great supporter of writers throughout the city – she’s also a wonderful writer herself! Her dedication to the craft of writing is impressive, and just like us at SAND she’s a true believer in the craft of editing, the way the stellar writing in a strong submission can be made to shine even brighter through patient and precise editing. She’s assembled a marvelous troupe of judges this time around, and I’m very honored to be included.
This year’s theme is “Home is elsewhere.” What sort of responses are you looking forward to?
As a journal based in Berlin, we often receive thinly veiled memoirs of people’s visits to our fine city. And while it’s great to relive the thrill (and inevitable subsequent sense of deception) of discovering a new place, these accounts often treat this new city’s counterpart, “home,” as a stable concept, while to most of us it is anything but.
There are many writers who have addressed this question – I’m thinking of Joan Didion, W.G. Sebald, or Valeria Luiselli, but also former SAND-contributor and former Berliner Brittani Sonnenberg – and I am very excited to read work that similarly goes beyond mere travel reportage, stories or essays that tackle just what it is that we’re looking for each time we pack our bags.