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Stage CJL © Hartwig Klappert
Stage CJL © Hartwig Klappert
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A Preview Of Berlin’s Literature Festival

Picture of Lily Cichanowicz
Updated: 20 December 2016
With September just around the corner, it’s that time of year again for Berlin’s annual International Literature Festival. Now in its 16th year, this event spans over 11 days and features authors from around the world. While divided into five parts, the program’s primary emphasis is on prose and lyric poetry. A festival by people who love literature for people who love literature, here is what you need to know.

Literatures of the World

The festival’s roster of writers from all over the globe gives it an unmistakable international character. This distinctive quality of the festival is most clearly highlighted in the ‘Literatures of the World’ section. What makes it particularly exciting is that it features readings by both internationally renowned authors and rising stars in the realms of prose and poetry. The program for the ‘Literatures of the World’ portion of the festival is meticulously curated by the festival organizers and experts who have their fingers on the pulse of the international contemporary literary scene. This year’s program will commence at Kino International with a reading by Eugen Ruge from his first novel.

Speak, memory

The festival’s comprehensiveness spans beyond its international character in the ‘Speak, memory’ portion of the program, which features the work of authors from across decades and even centuries. Program behind, ‘Speak, memory’ aims both to commemorate some of the most famous authors of the past and to pay homage to those who have been lost to the obscurity of time. ‘Speak, memory’ is comprised of both talks and readings in a multitude of different languages. Some of this year’s highlights include Verena Auffermann on Henry James as a pioneer of modernity and Howard Jacobson’s variation on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, titled Shylock Is My Name.

Big Stage © Ali Ghandtschi
Big Stage | © Ali Ghandtschi


Reflections is one of the more explicitly political portions of the program. Here, authors, journalists and experts from different fields will offer reflections and opinions about various social, political, and cultural issues within the international sphere. In most cases, those in attendance will also have a chance to ask the speakers questions at the end of their lectures. This year, the topics will mostly focus on the region of Eastern Europe. This year’s program will explore the current role of voting in so-called democratic societies in addition to offering an exploration of refugee movements occurring around Europe.

International Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Something else that makes this international literature festival interesting is that it includes a portion dedicated to younger audiences. In addition to readings, featured illustrators and authors will present their work and offer inspiration via workshops and school project proposals. The program will include riveting readings from many different writers, Q&As, a poetry slam, and more. One of the concluding events in this portion of the festival is the 12th annual literary night, which will feature a workshop about the work of children’s author, Edward van de Vendel.


The ‘Specials’ element of the festival features a multitude of interactive projects, social initiatives, and smaller events. One of this year’s special events is Graphic Novel Day, where world renowned artists and illustrators will speak. There will also be a series of events surrounding the topic, The Art of Editing. A major component of this series will include talks and critical discussions will be held about Islamism and the brand, Made in Germany.