Berlin

Click here for more information on The Berlin Writing Prize 2022
Click here for more information on The Berlin Writing Prize 2022

ENTER BY AUGUST 15TH TO WIN A THREE-WEEK WRITING RESIDENCY IN BERLIN 

SAND is delighted to be partnering with The Reader Berlin and The Circus Hotel to present The Berlin Writing Prize 2022 for fiction and creative nonfiction.

The theme for this year’s international Berlin Writing Prize is “Escape,” in all its many forms.

The winner will receive a three-week residency at the Circus Hotel in Berlin from 2 to 22 January 2023, including their very own apartment, plus a month’s breakfast vouchers for the Circus Hostel, and up to €100 in travel costs toward their travel to Berlin.

The winning writer and the two runners up will get a 30-minute private publishing Q&A with literary agent Jenny Hewson, and they will be featured on the SAND website. This feature will include publication of their winning entry, an interview, or both, depending on the author’s preference.

In addition to the above, two runners up will receive two nights in a double room of their own at The Circus Hotel over January’s competition prize-giving event, and a travel budget to a maximum of €100 each to cover their journey to Berlin. 

A further seven shortlisted writers will win goodie bags, plus invitations to our prize-giving event on January 2023. 


SUBMIT TO THE BERLIN WRITING PRIZE

  • Enter original, unpublished prose fiction and creative nonfiction up to 3,000 words on the “Escape” theme.

  • The entry fee is €10.

  • The closing date is midnight (Berlin time) August 15, 2022.

  • The longlist will be announced in September 2022. Winners will be announced in October.

  • Prize Giving Event: January 2023 (date tbc)

To read the complete contest rules, to read about the judges, and to enter the contest, click here. We look forward to seeing your best work!

After a year of digital pandemic launches, we were finally able to gather our Berlin family together for a real, live, in-person launch on 5 Nov 2021 at Prachtwerk in Berlin.

We enjoyed readings and presentations from creative nonfiction writer Nikitta Adjirakor, poet Winifred Wong, fiction writer Gurmeet Singh, artist Tabitha Swanson, and poet/flash fiction writer Lizzy Yarwood. Their work can be found in the latest issues of SAND.

We were excited to see some of our favorite SAND team alums and past contributors in the audience along with other known and new faces. This was extra special on a night when SAND announced an exciting transition: Outgoing Editor in Chief, Jake Schneider, handed over the reins to our new Editor in Chief, Ashley Moore.

Thank you to those of you who made it and who support us through reading, submitting, and being part of our creative community. We hope you enjoy the photos of the night below. All photography by Marlon Schipper.

Lola, a Berlin cultural magazine in English, describes itself as follows: “We love culture. We love music, art, film, sex life and human interest stories. We also love Berlin. We combine these loves to produce a magazine, website and podcast dedicated to them.” In the summer of 2020, they interviewed our Editor in Chief about SAND for their Media Matters series. Here’s an extract:

Issue 21 marked ten years of SAND. Do you think the purpose of the journal is the same today as it was when it first started?
I think our main functions as a journal have held steady: to bring readers, editors, artists, writers, translators, into a single conversation on the page. And to amplify interesting and exciting work that our readers are unlikely to have seen elsewhere, with a growing emphasis on featuring artists and writers from groups and places that have been systematically sidelined by the publishing industry. Our tastes and preoccupations keep evolving with the team, but that’s an advantage of the journal format. We live and publish in the moment. We’ve grown a bit more professional – recently, after a decade of volunteering and scraping by, we finally received public funding from the Berlin Senate – but through it all, we’ve sustained radically independent ideals. Our tastes are still uncompromising. We care about craft and voice and edge, not favoritism or name recognition.

 

For the most recent issue, you also acknowledge the role of the pandemic, stating, “we’ve gotten to know the pieces even more intimately, seeing them in a surreal light we could not have imagined when we began this issue.” How has the pandemic affected SAND this year, especially in terms of not being able to host a launch party for issue #21?
As a publication that thrives on community, the necessary suspension of face-to-face gatherings in Berlin has been devastating. That launch party especially. On two nights a year, that’s how we celebrate all the creativity and hard work that was distilled into the physical object of the new issue. As our fiction editor, Ashley Moore, mournfully observed, there is no substitute for seeing people paging through the freshly printed copies we’ve been working so hard on for months. Hearing how contributors read our favorite lines out loud. And then dancing it out. Our anniversary would have also commemorated those parties themselves, where many Berliners first got to know us (and each other).

Then again, the Internet allowed us to connect with contributors and fans from six continents who never could have made it to the party venue. Our quick-thinking event coordinators, Courtney Gosset and Nadja Poljo, transformed our usual night of readings, artist talks, and dancing into a weekend-long festival we streamed on our YouTube channel, complete with readings, studio visits, animations, interviews between editors and contributors, and a reunion with some of our editorial alumni. We learned a lot from the experience. But we’re still so eager to mingle organically with our creative neighbors again when this is all over.

How important is Berlin as SAND’s location of publishing?

In some ways, publishing is a logical next step for any maturing literary scene. But in a linguistic enclave, it can also be a radical act. Generations of publishers in exile have defied censorship and repression in their countries of origin, from Parisian presses printing 20th century queer writing in English when homosexuality was severely criminalized in both Britain and most places it had colonized, to the publishers in exile of Czech and Hungarian writing during the Cold War. Similarly, an émigré writer such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o can find space for self-expression abroad that is unavailable to him in Kenya, allowing him to write masterpieces in Gĩkũyũ that speak intimately to the Kenyan – and human – experience from across the ocean. Thanks to his publishers and the miracle of translation, we can read them.

We look to these role models with great respect, but our own case is different. Simply by publishing in our native English, we find ourselves heir to a dark legacy of British and US cultural imperialism. Resisting that legacy, we try to use our platform – and our language’s huge audience – to amplify voices that publishers and curators have often erased or marginalized. We don’t see ourselves as either exiles or emissaries. Berlin, this gathering place, is our chosen home. Currently our team consists of fourteen people with at least eight different passports, and almost all of us moved across borders to live in this singular city. Berlin deeply informs how we read literature and look at art, even if most of the authors and artists we feature live elsewhere.

Read the full interview at Lola.

Exberliner, founded in 2002 by three journalists from the UK, Romania, and France, is Germany’s largest publication in English, with focuses on culture, reportage, and politics in Berlin, especially its international community. In the summer of 2019, their reporter Madeleine Pollard interviewed our Editor in Chief about what sets SAND apart, Berlin as a haven for international writers, and the question of how newcomers from abroad (especially literary ones) fit into German identity and public cultural funding policy. Here’s an extract:

Is Berlin still the haven for expat writers it’s supposed to be?

Berlin is just miles ahead any other city I know when it comes to its support of non-national literature – i.e. literature in languages besides the country’s official language. This year, the Senat opened applications for writing stipends for non-German-language authors. Do you know of any other city that gives foreign authors a salary for a year to write their book in their own language? It’s only open to six people per year, but they receive €2000 tax free every month! We don’t have the same pressure to conform to what people are doing in the UK or US. Obviously rising rents are a huge issue, but despite the expenses, the writing here is becoming much more sophisticated – maybe a little less avant garde. When I first arrived, there was an English book launch three or four times a year. There’s so much going on now that you’re constantly missing stuff, which really says a lot.

In the latest issue of SAND, the theme is “Out of Place” and in your editor’s note you invite readers to “drop place altogether”. But wouldn’t you agree that a lot of literature produced here has emerged from this very sense of Berlin as a unique place?

There’s a lot of extremely place-specific writing that’s coming out of Berlin because the city almost automatically inspires an interest in the archaeological onion peels of its successive and simultaneous identities. But the theme of this edition was sparked by these posters in Berlin which offered to pay foreigners to “go home”, and the political uproar over the xenophobic takeover of the Interior Ministry. We have this crisis with what it means to be a Berliner. The fact many Berliners don’t identify as German despite having a German passport isn’t just a reflection of their failure to integrate; it’s also a reflection of Germany’s failure to include them in its self-definition. In the city that accepted the most refugees in 2015 and has been the site of an international literary renaissance, we are at the frontline of these questions as to what it means to be out of place.

Read the full interview at Exberliner.

In summer 2018, SAND joined the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), a New York-based network of hundreds of literary journals and small publishers, mostly in the United States. SAND’s Editor in Chief Jake Schneider was interviewed about the experience of publishing an English-language journal in Germany for the CLMP blog. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the interview:

What are some of the challenges you face publishing in English while existing in Germany?

Publishing in English in Germany is rewarding and gratifying. As an editor anywhere, nothing beats the feeling of a holding a freshly printed issue in your hands and remembering all the love and hard work that went into it. I’d like to emphasize that first.

On to the challenges. It’s fair to say that all independent literary journals are in precarious financial straits, but our location also rules out many of the usual fundraising strategies. In a country where a great many artistic projects are taxpayer-funded—where the arts are still mostly considered a public good—we are largely ineligible for that support, even as taxpayers. But because Germany’s public system functions relatively well, there isn’t the need for the same culture of donations as in the US. And it’s similarly hard to find advertisers. So, for nine years now, we’ve covered our printing costs mainly through issue sales and admission fees to our launch parties. I’m pondering these dilemmas, though. We want to raise more funds so we can start paying contributors at last.

But Berlin is not synonymous with Germany. Not long ago, and for nearly four decades, the city was occupied by four countries and two rival ideologies. West Berlin was physically walled off from both East and West Germany. This urban island, ringed by rivers and lakes, attracted artistic misfits of all stripes: draft-dodgers, muralists, clubgoers, musicians, squatters, punks, and underground poets. Their legacy remains: it’s not your standard European capital.

In other words, Berlin has a long history as a community of outsiders in creative isolation, a metropolis in between countries and systems. SAND sees itself within that history—not as more foreign occupiers, I hope, but as a creative community within this hotbed of self-driven artmaking. And literature in English and many other languages is thriving here. We’re proud to play a part in it.

Read the full interview on the CLMP blog.

Cup of coffee

Our Editor in Chief likes to start our monthly meetings with “icebreakers,” even though by now the ice is well and truly broken. One time we went around the circle revealing our favorite cafés. These were the results.

 

Friedrichshain

 

Herman Schulz Café

Finowstraße 33, 10247 Berlin

This place doubles as a living room and is a perfect place for coffee, cake and writing. It functions on the honor system, where you can take beer from the fridge and just tell the person behind the counter what you had when you leave. If you come here often enough, the dogs start to recognize you.

 

Neukölln

 

K-Fetisch

Wildenbruchstraße 86, 12045 Berlin

Pronounced ‘k a f e: t ɪ ʃ’, meaning coffee table. A favorite hangout for a lot of team members, especially for its €4 Aperol-spritz, which was a lifesaver through the Great Heatwave of 2018.

 

Katie’s Blue Cat 

Friedelstraße 31, 12047 Berlin

You’ll find no Wifi here, so there are no Macbook-lingerers, just delicious Third Wave coffee and pastires from friendly kiwis.wo words: Lemon. Squares.

 

Nathanja & Heinrich 

Weichselstraße 44, 12045 Berlin

Great in sunny weather with large open windows, and always good for a glass of wine.

 

Laidak 

Boddinstraße 42/43, 12053 Berlin

Not technically a café but a Schankwirtschaft (pub), this place is quiet, with lots of well-worn furniture and little back rooms hosting a arrange of events from art films and talks to a Finnegan’s Wake reading group. Extra points for putting a chocolate biscuit on each saucer.

 

Prachtwerk

Ganghoferstraße 2, 12043 Berlin

Has a slightly London feel to it, but plenty of space for working with laptops, and the occasional opera practice happening in the background. We highly recommend their Iced Espresso Tonic.

 

Kreuzberg

 

Five Elephant

Reichenberger Str. 101, 10999 Berlin

 

Goldmarie

Grimmstraße 29, 10967 Berlin

 

Mitte

 

Kaschk 

Linienstraße 40, 10178 Berlin

Good coffee and a great selection of microbrews. 

 

Prenzlauer Berg 

 

Le Midi

Greifenhagener Str. 17, 10437 Berlin

 

Gilgamesch

Greifswalder Str. 194, 10405 Berlin

Not a bar but an amazing falafel place!

 

Café Liebling 

Raumerstraße 36A, 10437 Berlin

Three words: amazing banana bread.

 

NOTHAFT SEIDEL CAFÉ

Schönhauser Allee 43A, 10435 Berlin

Old school desks, banana bread, matcha muffins, flat whites and a choice of milks for the lactose intolerant. There’s a cosy room with armchairs in the back where you can have a bowl of breakfast or sit in the evenings. In the summer there are cucumber drink blends and seats outside. A big gentrification cliché? Maybe, but admit it, you love your aronia bowls and oat-milk lattes.

 

Wedding

Wilma 

Badstraße 38, 13357 Berlin

Small hole in the wall but extremely cozy.

 

Pankow

Our Fiction Editor Florian’s apartment

Florian has an extensive tea collection and a boiling-water tap for instant tea gratification. His stylish furniture made by his brother-in-law is also a unique feature. However, if you’re a coffee drinker, you might be out of luck. The café down the street (‘Wo der Bär den Honig holt’) sells excellent brews to go. Plan ahead and buy it on your way to the editorial meeting.

 

Anywhere

Kerb Outside of a Späti

Or a fountain outside of a Späti. Or even a square outside of a supermarket. Take your pick. The point is: sometimes you’re broke, the sun is shining, and the people-watching outside your favorite Spätkauf is the best possible inspiration for the characters in your next short story. 

The writer and performance artist Lena Chen moved to Berlin and adopted a new name and identity. The Galician-born and proudly Icelandic poet Elías Knörr has “localized” his pen name in a rejection of insular ideas of nativeness and foreignness. They both perform (under even more personas) at the Poetry Brothel, a series of burlesque-style literary cabarets in nine countries that include private poetry readings in place of lap dances. The next Berlin session of the Poetry Brothel – Bacchanal edition – will be on 30 August.

In parallel, we asked Lena and Elías a few questions about their alter egos.

 

Can you tell us how you decided to adopt an alter ego?

Lena: I started writing an autobiographical novel shortly before I moved to Berlin, and Elle was my protagonist, based on myself. I was simultaneously working through a lot of trauma related to being a victim of revenge porn and Internet harassment). I decided to start modeling as a way to reclaim my image – which had been disseminated without my consent. I took on the name “Elle Peril” in real life, created social media profiles for her, and lived under this identity for five years. I shot with photographers across Europe and the US and went by the name Elle, which is still the name most of my friends know me by in Europe. Embodying Elle Peril meant that I could escape unwanted online attention, rebuild a life beyond my trauma, and explore my sexuality and relationship with men.

Sexuality has been a source of shame for so much of human existence, because it’s powerful and threatens those in power. If we can find a way to understand our desires and harness our sexual energy, we can heal ourselves and correct social injustices.

Elías: I’ve always worked with alter egos. For more than ten years now, I’ve been publishing by putting myself in somebody else’s shoes. I’ve done a little bit of creativity theory and I prefer to neutralise the author’s ego and always look for inspiration outside myself. That’s how you always find more new and unexpected stuff. I like setting aside romanticism and my inner feelings and searching for inspiration in the outer world rather than in my own heart, because no matter how deep and broad my mind is, the outer world will always be wider and will always surprise me…

I could speak about this for hours, but let’s say that creating an alter ego is one of the many ways to forget about yourself and look for new creative strategies. It also helps you get out of your comfort zone and be more permeable. I often also work as if I were the translator, the interpreter, or the editor of my own texts; it makes things much easier when you see them from outside.

 

Does inhabiting an alter ego feel comforting? Confining? Liberating?

Lena: Identity is confining when we limit ourselves to one identity or kind of life. I found that creating an alter ego freed me from the expectations of others.

Elías: It doesn’t have to be less comforting or comfortable than the clothes you decide to wear. I don’t find it confining at all but, then again, it can imply some self-imposed restrictions. These are actually very useful, since accepting a character also means accepting new rules for the game. These rules make you travel in new directions and they help you avoid certain areas that you might wish to stay away from, in order to change. Maybe it sounds like they could be a problem, but actually, the challenge is what calls for intelligence and creativity.

I live in Iceland, which has a great literary environment but the community is very very small. It can be quite dörflich [village-like] and full of expectations and prescriptivism… So the theatricality of alter egos can break all those limitations and bring a lot of freedom to a writer.

Besides, I have foreign origins and, for a tiny society, that’s quite a heavy issue, which is better to avoid as much as possible in order to protect one’s work from being spoiled by one’s real identity. Using an alter ego that nobody knows can serve as a mask. Maybe it doesn’t help with promotion, but if you get good responses, everybody knows it’s because of the value of your work, not because of who you are. I’m such an ugly duckling that I would never have got here if I hadn’t put on that mask in the first place.

 

Where would your alter ego feel most at home?

Lena: Living in a temple with a cult of priestesses devoted to goddess worship.

Elías: That depends a lot on the alter ego or on the work. It’s a matter of performance, so it always belongs to some kind of scenario; this can be a film or the pages of a book, but of course also the place where one is performing. Some voices, like the SpiegelHaut-project that I’m working on in Germany, only materialise while singing in Late Latin, but there’s another alter ego that fictionally died a hundred years ago and maybe could only come to life through a comic book… Let’s see. My brothel character, Michaël Drake, claims in his bio that he only feels at home when he’s performing poetry, wherever he is at the time.

 

When you write or perform as your alter ego, do you feel like a different person?

Lena: Yes, within the Poetry Brothel, I perform as The Poetry Oracle, who writes custom poems in response to a question and a card drawn from an oracle deck. Depending on the client, I can be extremely seductive or more sage-like. I find myself becoming more confident or even dominating. These are probably aspects of my personality that exist, but for whatever reason, I haven’t felt comfortable showing it in my “real” life as Lena Chen, though that’s quickly changing.

Elías: I do as an actor does. As Michaël Drake in the Brothel, I sell dreams and the client is paying for that, not for my boring reality-self, so I stay in character and talk and act as he would do. He’s 577 years old, so his human feelings have a very different perspective than mine, but at the same time, he ignores many things that I know and has even bigger memory problems than I do… So, yeah, we’re quite different. Sometimes it takes me a while to get into a character, but the funniest thing is when you’re still in character and you continue acting like him/her and start flirting with the waitress even though the show is over… Once I had a character for a project (a physically impaired, rich young lady called Magda) who never came to life because I went to a literary festival and I started behaving like her. It actually had a good impact on my performance, but it freaked me out a bit so I killed her.

When writing as an alter ego, the process can be a bit more complex… Sometimes I make up funky rituals in order to get into the mind of the character, and I try to surround myself with things that inspire that personality. In a way it’s like an invocation. Sometimes I also feel like the alter ego’s text is already written before I start it, that I just need to rescue it from oblivion or edit it… I don’t know if it makes sense, but it helps to have that certainty as a starting point when actually there’s still nothing.

 

Would your alter ego do or write things that “you” wouldn’t, or vice versa?

Lena: Absolutely – being Elle allowed me to interact with men again and overcome fears about being taken advantage of. I felt really unsafe and paranoid in men’s presence for many years. Within the context of a photo shoot, I was able to carry on a conversation and sometimes even become friends with men. Of course, there have been photographers who have tried to cross my boundaries, but the art modeling community is really strong and conscious about safety. Before #MeToo ever happened, I have spoken with so many models about being hit on, harassed, or violated in the course of our work. Models have blacklists and whisper networks which attempt to hold photographers accountable for inappropriate behavior.

Elías: For sure, that’s what alter egos are made for, for doing crazy things! And it’s very healthy, sort of a carnival. Some of Michaël Drake’s texts I would never publish under my name, but they’re perfect for the Brothel. Also, when I compose melodies for my readings, I always tend to do medieval and folkish things, but for the ContraFaces film I was being somebody else with somebody else’s texts, so I wrote some kind of a singer-songwriter song with Erin Moure’s poem “Dog of Water.”

Also, when you’re only being yourself, both the person and the author are the same thing and you might need to defend your literary authority in quite an academic way. But when you’re being a character, that’s totally out of the question and you might even feel more free to talk about tricky political or social issues as long as it fits in the game.

I would even dare to say that in a modern society where context is systematically ignored and words are constantly misplaced, the “masquerade” of expressing yourself as an alter ego can easily be more authentic than the fake reality and post-truth that surround us in traditional and social media.

 

Lena, what made you decide to retire Elle last year?

Lena: In order to move on psychologically, I needed to merge my two identities instead of compartmentalizing my trauma (and therefore, my life). I never set out with the intention to become a full-time model. In addition to using it therapeutically, I also saw it as a challenge (could I do this and be good at it?). But after five years, I was honestly bored of modeling and felt like I was not getting much out of it artistically anymore, though still I remain interested in collaborating with visual artists. I became interested in pursuing other forms of art, particularly performance/live art and film. In order to move on psychologically, I needed to merge my two identities instead of compartmentalizing my trauma (and therefore, my life). I had two sets of social media accounts. My friends in Europe didn’t know my background story, and my friends in the States had only vague ideas about my modeling. I also never set out with the intention to become a full-time model. In addition to using it therapeutically for writer’s block and trauma, I also saw it as a challenge (could I do this and be good at it?) But after five years, I was honestly bored of modeling and felt like I was getting much out of it artistically anymore, though still I remain interested in collaborating with visual artists. I’m still a writer at heart and now I’m interested in pursuing other forms of storytelling, particularly performance/live art and film.

 

Elías, is there anything else you’d like to tell me as “yourself”?

Elías: Well, I’m Elías Knörr, an Icelandic writer but born in Galicia. I’m mainly a poet and translator but I also write so-called “weird fiction” and I do some performing and music. I’m living right now in Berlin on a writer’s fellowship from the Republic of Iceland, but I’ve already been to Germany six or eight times for festivals organised by Lettrétage and several universities. I write in both Icelandic and Galician, though I use more languages when I perform. The UK Poetry Review once considered me one of the three most representative poets of the post-crisis period in Iceland, and once I also won the biggest poetry prize in the Galician language. My texts always have avant-gardish tastes. I like to work on “the possibilities of words” and search for external, not personal inspiration. I love queer issues in the broadest sense you can imagine. I’m a regular collaborator with the UNESCO City of Literature in Reykjavík and I sell dreams at Rauða Skáldahúsið, the Poetry Brothel of Reykjavík. I’m a very boring person in real life but I haven’t felt bored since I was a teenager. I find literature to be one of the most hygienic tools we have for our souls and for society. Some people read my poems and then ask my publishers whether there’s a woman hiding under my boy’s name. English translations of two books of mine are coming out soon, and now and then I read individual translations of my poems in German. I’m actually learning German… but my accent sounds more like Zara Leander’s than like standard Hochdeutsch.

 

Learn more about Lena Chen’s life and work on her website (NSFW). Or see her at a future edition of the Poetry Brothel.

While we eagerly await Eliás Knörr’s books in English translation, you can read four translated poems here and a profile of the poet here. Or purchase a private reading at the Poetry Brothel on 30 August in Berlin.

Plenty of comparisons have been made between Berlin and New York, especially their “equivalent” neighborhoods. Because this upcoming week-long festival in Berlin of the two cities’ literary intersections (8-15 July) shares a name with an online slang dictionary of questionable reference value, I thought I’d find out what the internet had to say about both metropolises. (The search was partly inspired by Hannes Bajohr, a festival participant and electronic man of letters, who finds far greater literary value in the digital depths.)

On Urban Dictionary, I found this:

 

On Mundmische, a German equivalent, I found the following:

 

Attempted translation:

    to berlin
    or to “berlin around

    If someone berlins all the time, that means s/he is constantly annoying other people with how awesome Berlin is.

Sample sentences:
 
    “I’ve got to go to Berlin for New Year’s. It’s supposed to be so nice at the Brandenburg Gate. And the people there are so open to everything and everyone – Berlin is the New York of Germany.

    “Woah there. Stop berlinning me around.”

    “That Mona, she’s been berlinning it again today.”

So is Berlin really the New York of Germany – in that they both have “uppity” admirers in small towns? Is that true of all big cities? What does that have to do with literature?

Never mind. Just come to the festival. Here are just a few of the great participants we’re excited to see:

Hope to see you there!
 

If you don’t live where you were born, who are you? How do you identify as you move to other places and make a new home in the world? On 9 June, ‘Who am I? Stories of Migrations’ focused on migration as part of the Long Night of the Sciences, including a reading by novelist, playwright, and translator Kate McNaughton, who was born in Paris to British parents and now lives in Berlin.

The students of the Centre for British Studies presented their project for the 2018 edition of the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften (Long Night of the Sciences).This year’s group of students has been working hard to create an interactive exploration of stories of migration to the United Kingdom. Join them at Humboldt Universität’s Senatsaal for an extensive all-night exhibition and take part in their workshops and roundtable discussions on contemporary issues of migration and migrant culture. 

The event delved into migrants’ experiences through individual stories, testimonies, and artwork. Visitors could share their own migration story by drawing their own journey on a map, or sharing their thoughts in a roundtable discussion. There was food from around the world and a fun quiz to close the event. At 8pm, Kate McNaughton gave a reading from her debut novel How I Lose You. We already spoke with Kate about migration when we ran into her at Writing in Migration: the African Book Festival:

Kate McNaughton (@katemcnaughton) was born and raised in Paris and now lives in Berlin. She read English and European Literature at Cambridge and filmmaking at the European Film College in Denmark. Her debut novel How I Lose You was published by Doubleday (UK) and Les Escales (France) in 2018. As well as a writer, she is also a documentary maker and translator.

9 March 2018

Stadtsprachen Magazin and SAND
Present a Reading with
Elnathan John and Kinga Tóth
 

What languages does Berlin write in? The PARATAXE event series showcases Berlin authors who write in everything but German. In the March 2018 edition, Martin Jankowski introduced readings by the Nigerian novelist and satirist Elnathan John and Hungarian sound poet and illustrator Kinga Tóth.

Date: Friday, 9 March 2018 at 8pm
Location: English Theatre Berlin, Fidicinstr. 40, 10965  
Transportation: U6 Platz der Luftbrücke, U7 Mehringdamm
Admission: €5 regular, €3 reduced

We last collaborated with Parataxe in September, co-presenting a reading with Marie-Pascale Hardy and Brygida Helbig.

Elnathan John is a writer and lawyer living between Nigeria and Germany. Mostly. His works have appeared in Hazlitt, Per Contra, Le Monde Diplomatique, FT and the Caine Prize for African Writing anthologies of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He writes a weekly political satire column for the Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust on Sunday. He has never won anything. This record was almost disrupted by the Caine Prize when they accidentally included his story on the shortlist in 2013 and again in 2015. Of course, both times, he did not win. He has been shortlisted and longlisted for a few other prizes, but he is content with his position as a serial finalist. It is kind of like being a best man at a wedding – you get to attend the ceremony but you can get drunk, sneak off and hook up without anyone noticing because after all, you are not the groom. In 2008, after being lied to by friends and admirers about the quality of his work, he hastily self-published an embarrassing collection of short stories which has thankfully gone out of print. He hopes to never repeat that foolish mistake. His novel Born On a Tuesday was published in Nigeria (in 2015), the UK and US (in 2016) and will be available in German in 2017.

  • Here is an interview with Elnathan in The Guardian about religion, satire, and his debut novel.
  • Back in 2015, long before the travel ban and a certain unprintable comment about his continent, Elnathan published a travel advisory warning Nigerian citizens against visiting the United States.

Kinga Tóth was born in Sárvár, Hungary in 1983. She is a linguist, teaches German language and literature, works as a communications specialist and is an editor at the art magazine Palócföld. Tóth describes herself as a (sound) poet and illustrator. She is also the lead singer and songwriter of the Tóth Kína Hegyfalu project and a board member of the József Attila Circle for young writers, among other projects and associations. Her poetry was featured in English translation in Poetry magazine. In Hungarian, her writing has appeared in the likes of Palócföld, Prae.hu, Pluralica, Árgus, Irodalmi Jelen and Irodalmi Szemle. Tóth is a participant in the author exchange program between the Akademie Schloss Solitude and Budapest’s young literary scene. Her books include Zsúr (Party, 2013) and All Machine (2014). Currently she is working on her newest book The Moonlight Faces.

  • Read some English translations of her poems here, from Poetry magazine (!).

Here are some photographs of the event taken by the wonderful Graham Hains:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARATAXE (supported by the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa) and stadtsprachen magazin jointly introduce today’s multilingual authors and literary scenes of Berlin.