The opening event of the International Literature Festival is called ‘berlin reads,’ and it is geared towards honoring local perspectives about current issues and events. This year, ‘berlin reads’ is on the topic of refugees and asylum seekers. The event runs all day from 6AM-5:30PM at locations throughout the city. The commentary will specifically be focused on how to cope with this urgent situation, on the fate of all the ‘nameless’ refugees and asylum seekers, and on the role of politics in handling the situation at large. One notable speaker will be author Marina Naprushkina, who will be sharing the accounts of people she encountered during her time as a refugee aid worker.
Literature Behind Bars
Literature Behind Bars is an event closed to the public. It might seem odd that this is so, considering the idea that this festival presents itself as all-inclusive. This is the case, however, because Literature Behind Bars takes place — as you may have guessed already — in detention centers in the Berlin area. Participating authors do a reading and then engage in conversation about the piece with the inmates. Authors participate on a completely voluntary basis, meaning they aren’t compensated in any way, except perhaps through the enrichment of connecting with the experiences of detainees who are often rendered invisible by society. Three of these readings will take place this month. Zsófia Bán, the Brazilian–Hungarian writer, will be reading at the notorious JVA Moabit prison on September 15. On September 16, German author, Norman Ohler will be reading at JVA Tegel. Then, on the 21st, another German comic artist by the name of Mawil will conclude the month’s readings at JSA Berlin.
Literature for Africa
Literature for Africa is another initiative geared towards reaching those who are often marginalized in this world, particularly when it comes to being included in conversations about global affairs and academia. The project is an effort to increase access to literature in Africa by setting up donations to libraries throughout the continent. Festival personnel have already created over 80 library profiles based on criteria about needed genres and preferred languages. The festival is currently accepting monetary donations, but it is also possible to purchase books on its behalf through Amazon.
For a more comprehensive list of the literary events and its featured authors, check out Berlin’s International Literature Festival’s website here. With its diverse array of participants embodying literary traditions from around the globe and events located throughout the city, there is bound to be something for everyone. In addition to experiencing some of the best samples of contemporary literature from around the world, you can rest assured that you are also participating in some great humanitarian efforts.
By Lily Cichanowicz