The 8th international literature festival berlin 2008

international literature festival berlin 08

The international literature festival berlin is an event
organized by the Peter-Weiss-Stiftung für Kunst und Politik e.V.
and the Berliner Festispiele under the patronage of the German UNESCO committee.
It is faciliated by means of the Hauptstadtkulturfonds (Capital-Culture-Funds).

The 8th international literature festival berlin with its
Focus on Africa

September 24th-October 5th 2008

Online ticket pre-sales began:

The exceptional literary event in its 8th year! The 8th international literature festival Berlin will take place from September 24th to October 5th, 2008. The focus is concentrated on Africa this year. The festival will open on September 24th with three women: Nancy Huston (Canada/F), distinguished with the Prix Femina in 2006, will give the opening talk on "why literary lies are better than other lies". Amma Darko, from Ghana, will begin the 11-day literary journey through Africa that the festival is offering its visitors: she will introduce her novel "Not Without Flowers", in which women's self-determination is fought for. Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe will read from her current novel, which was recently published in France: "Les belles ténébreuses".


There has seldom been such a wide-ranging presentation of African authors in Germany: younger African authors, writers already known in Europe, and youth and children's book authors and illustrators will shed light upon life on the African continent, talk about the day-to-day life and history of their individual countries and discuss burning political, economic and cultural questions. The retrospective in the series "Speak, Memory" presents important African writers of the past.

Over 100 authors will be reading from their work and taking part in discussions in approximately 200 events at the main location, Berliner Festspiele, as well at locations city-wide. For the first time there will be a new programme section, which is a forum for young and new German language authors. It will complement the established structure of the festival's sections.

The complete programme will be available on the literature festival's website ( and the Berliner Festspiele's website ( on August 1st. A list of the confirmed participating authors is available on the literature festival's website.

The current program for which tickets are available online on

Wed, 24.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Inauguration of the 8th international literature festival berlin
Nancy Huston (Canada/France) - Opening Speech: "Why Literary Lies are Better than Other Lies"

The author grew up in Germany, Canada and the USA and has been living in Paris since 1977. In addition to her novels, the author has also written non-fiction books - on issues such as swearwords, war and prostitution, pornography and literary nihilism -, three children's books and two plays. She is the Officer of the Order of Canada and Officier des Artes des Lettres in France. Huston has been awarded four honorary doctorates, most recently one from the University of Liège.

Wed, 24.9. 20.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Focus Africa
Amma Darko (Ghana)

What do a false prophet, a mysterious mistress and the practical boss of a hairdressing salon have in common? They all are characters in Darko's latest novel "Not Without Flowers", which is a gripping and complex tale about a society in transition from tradition to modern-day values. Polygamy and widows' rites stand opposite female emancipation and paid sex corrupts the relationships.

Wed, 24.9. 21.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Maryse Condé (France/USA)

The author reached international acclaim with her historical novels that question the stereotyping of cultural identity. She balances the generally Eurocentric outlook on history with narratives from a Black point of view. Her most recent work "Les belles ténébreuses" will be introduced .

Thu, 25.9. 15.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
International Children's and Youth Literature
Of Aphids, Snout Beetles and Fighting Ants an encounter with Timothée de Fombelle (France)

A magnificent oak provides the setting of this past paced adventure novel "Toby Alone" by Timothée de Fombelle. Toby is just one and a half millimetres tall and has a dangerous mission to fulfil! Toby and his people have lived together peacefully in the ancient forest since the beginning of time. Then one day Toby's father, a crazy professor, makes a groundbreaking discovery that puts his whole family in extreme danger. Toby is able to flee at the last moment, but he has only one thought on his mind -to free his parents from the deadly intrigues of the tyrannical snout beetle breeder, Jo Mitch. A dangerous expedition through the spectacular world of trees begins...The French author of children's books will be reading from volumes 1 and 2 of his celebrated "Toby Alone" adventures.
For children, youth and adults, tree lovers and botanists agend 10 and older. School groups from the 4th/5th form and above are also warmly welcomed.

Thu, 25.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Reflections | Opening: African Affairs
Hans Christoph Buch (Germany), Nuruddin Farah (Somalia/South Africa), James Shikwati (Kenya), Ilija Trojanow (Bulgaria/Germany)

The first panel of the series "African Affairs" is devoted to perspectives on Africa. In the media of industrialised countries, the news coverage is focused essentially on wars and civil conflicts, AIDS, female genital mutilation, corruption and other bad news. These are the associations of "the West" when countries and territories such as Burundi, Congo, Ivory Coast, Darfur, Liberia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Western Sahara, South Sudan, ZimbabWed, the Central African Republic, and currently Chad and Kenya, are being written about and considered. The endeavours of some stand in opposition to this perspective and instead emphasize the positive side of the continent's development, which isn't reducible to art and culture - or vacation destinations. How would an integral view of Africa be defined?

Thu, 25.09. 19.30 Institut Français
Speak, Memory
An evening about Einar Schleef

The director, actor, writer, painter and photographer Einar Schleef, who passed away in 2001, was considered to be an enfant terrible of the German theatre scene. He said about his novel "Gertrud": "I built a pyramid for my mother. Just chipped stones on top of each other for a German family tragedy". The theatrical version of his magnum opus captivates through its very distinct, abrupt and blunt language.
Jutta Hoffman and Marie-Luce Bonfanti are reading. Introduction and presentation: Crista Mittelsteiner.
Preview of the film "Jedes Wort in-und auswendig/Chaque mot par coeur" (t: Every word by heart...) from Anne-Marie Gourier and Crista Mittelsteine

Thu, 25.9. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Poetry Night I
Qassim Haddad (Bahrain), Christian Hawkey (USA), Zlatko Krasni (Serbia), Tim Liardet (United Kingdom), Don Paterson (United Kingdom)
Qassim Haddad
is his country's most prominent poet and a highly respected representative of Arabic poetry. In altogether 20 volumes of poems his openness towards new influences, topics and free forms is documented. "I respect the traditions of classical Arab poetry. But I recognize no authorities."

Christian Hawkey
reads from "Reisen in Ziegengeschwindigkeit". Daring, disturbingly funny and with scurrilous verve he works on the "elastic skin of surfaces". In its folds the subjects withdraw from the demand of conformity or adjustment and retain an instability that could be interpreted as an aesthetic reaction to political demands.
Zlatko Krasni
is a poet, literary critic, editor of anthologies and translator of numerous works of German writers from Goethe to Thomas Bernhard. He introduces a lyrical work that focuses on the fragility of the individual.
Tim Liardet is a British poet and critic. His fifth collection of poetry "The Blood Choir" was nominated for the T.S. Eliot Award in 2006. He will be reading from his recent collection of poems, a book-length elegy that circles the death of his brother.
The award winning Scottish poet Don Paterson has published four collections of poems most of which have been translated into German. His poems scrutinise the interminable changes in life. According to Paterson, "Poems translate silence and find words that do not exist in our daily language. They fill the gaps with songs that men should actually not be able to hear."

Thu, 25.9. 20.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Focus Africa
Nuruddin Farah (Somalia/South Africa)

Authors who are forced into exile like Somalian Naruddin Farah who lives in Cape Town probably have more reasons than others to write about travelling as quest. In his trilogy "Maps", "Gifts" and "Secrets" he described the quest of the African for social, personal, family-related and sexual identity. These searches are often driven by strong women in the centre of the events just like in his recent work, "Knots". Farah talks with Ilija Trojanow (Bulgaria/Germany).

Thu, 25.9. 20.00 Kammermusiksaal der Philharmonie
Natacha Atlas & the Mazeeka Ensemble present the new album "Ana Hina"

Natacha's performance spans centuries and crosses continents from West to East and back again. Her voice sounds like a jewel in these arrangements where captivating cover versions of songs by Egyptian and Western artists are performed side by side with compositions by Natacha and her musicians - producing a sound event that unites joy and pain, love and loss, hope and despair - everything that makes us human.

Thu, 25.9. 20.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Nancy Huston (Canada/France)

In her Prix Femina awarded novel "Fault Lines" the author outlines a family chronicle over sixty years. Describing six year old children from four generations, the novel traces a dark secret back to the time of National Socialism.

Thu, 25.9. 21.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
About Barack Obama: Ibrahima Thioub (Senegal), Tzvetan Todorov (Bulgaria/France) and Eliot Weinbeiger (USA)

In a historical speech delivered in Philadelphia in March of this year, Barack Obama directed the country's attention to the history and status quo of racism in the U.S. The U.S. must work its way out of the dead end of race relations, said Obama. Ever since his speech, all hopes have been pinned on Obama, who also intends to make crucial changes in foreign affairs. Composed of authors from three different continents, the panel will discuss the substance of these hopes and answer the question as to how realistic they are.

Fri, 26.9. 19.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Amitav Ghosh (India/USA)

Oppression and colonialism, the clashing of different cultures, and love and hatred are the topics of the author of the worldwide bestseller "The Glass Palace". He will read from his latest epic "Sea of Poppies": 1838 - on the upper reaches of the River Ganges the population is slaving on the British opium plantations. Xenophobia, intrigues and desperation unite a group of exiles on the former slave ship Ibis to form a community born out of suffering.
This event is sponsored by the Thalia book chain in Berlin.

Fri, 26.9. 19.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Kossi Efoui (Togo/France)

Kossi Efoui will be introducing his current novel "Solo d'un revenant" (t: Solo of a revenant). In the tradition of Samuel Beckett and Sony Labou Tansi, Efoui evokes fantastic worlds and a multidimensional fabric of words and sensory impressions. In his work, Efoui plays with African stereotypes, leaving behind the notion of "Africanity" which was at the centre of the Négritude movement.

Fri, 26.9. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Poetry Night II - Africa
Susan Kiguli (Uganda), Chirikure Chirikure (Zimbabwe), Lebogang Mashile (South Africa)

Susan Kiguli is regarded as one of the most interesting and promising young African poets who compose their poems in the form of oral tradition. The four sections of her "African Saga", namely "Poems of Protest", "Relational Poems", "Poems of Nature" and "Existential Poems" perfectly illustrate the range of her themes.
Chirikure Chirikure
is a critic of the political elite and a spokesperson for the disadvantaged people of Zimbabwe. He follows the oral story telling tradition of the Shona people in their language. With highly symbolic as well as simple and touching descriptions Chirikure reminds the people of their collective cultural tradition, condemns the abuse of power and selfishness, attesting to the importance of community.
Lebogang Mashile,
poet, performer, actress, presenter and producer is among the most popular artists of the country. Her lyrical and sometimes raw poems tell us about life in the new South Africa. Issues such as the diversity and unity of the "Rainbow Nation", the status of women, violence and the fragility of individuals are all treated with a sense of urgency, humour and at times with melancholy.

Fri, 26.9. 21.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
The Generation of '68 - were they romantic?

Geert Mak (Netherlands) is this year's recipient of the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding. He and philosopher/author Rüdiger Safranski (Germany) will give a talk about today's evaluation of the events that took place in 1968.

Fri, 26.9. 21.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Jáchym Topol (Czech Republic)

In his latest novel, the title of which literally means "To gurgle tar", the story of invading Soviet troops is told from the perspective of the young orphan Ilya, who joins them. The fictional restaging of Czechoslovakia's history transforms into a highly compressed, absurd form of theatre, which is nearly carnivalesque, yet remains grounded. The novel, as well as its German translation by Milena Oda and Andreas Tretner have been highly praised.

Sat, 27.9. 10.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections | African Affairs
The relationship between Germany and Africa: Past and Present
Uazuvara Katjivena (Namibia/Norway), Helmut Strizek (Germany), Joachim Zeller (Germany), Ibrahima Thioub (Senegal)

The topic of discussion is Germany's role in Africa, which today seems comparatively marginal. Yet the continent's history - and present - is closely linked to German foreign affairs, particularly its dark side: the Bismarck Conference of 1884/85, the Herero and Namaqua Rebellion in German South-West Africa in 1904, the colonisation of German East Africa in 1908 (including the Maji Maji Rebellion of 1905/07) and Rommel's campaign in the Second World War. How does this history affects Germany's contemporary communication with Africa? To which challenges must Germany rise?

Sat, 27.9. 12.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections | African Affairs
Africa and Europe
Andreas Eckert (Germany), Grada Kilomba (São Tomé and Príncipe/Portugal/Germany), Ibrahima Thioub (Senegal)

After the Second World War, the colonisation of Africa by European countries in the 19th and 20th centuries was brought to an end, and sovereign states were established. The hopes that were attached to this new beginning were followed by bitter disappointments that were essentially brought about by the pressure-group politics of the Western industrial nations. Many African countries have hardly been able to develop in terms of their governments and economies. What must the European Union do in order to allow a partnership with Africa to develop that will work to Africa's advantage?

Sat, 27.9. 17.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Literatures of the World
László Krasznahorkai (Hungary/Germany) and Ion Grigorescu (Romania)

László Krasznahorkai will introduce Ion Grigorescu with a short story, his nominee for the programme section "Literatures of the World". Grigorescu is considered to be one of the first Romanian concept artists. His work and performances combine political and metaphysical aspects, and are often concerned with his own physicality.

Sat, 27.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/African Affairs
James Shikwati (Kenya) und Daniel Kempken (Germany) about development aid

2.3 billion dollars in development aid, says World Bank economist William Easterly, has been issued since the sixties - and predominantly to Africa. While the majority of economists and left-liberal politicians support an increase in aid, Kenyan economic expert James Shikwati (Director of the Inter Region Economic Network) regards this aid as fatal. Shikwati says it undermines the Africans' pride, fosters financial dependence and corruption, and lowers the entrepreneurial spirit. It furthermore stabilises the regimes of dictators. Daniel Kempken is an employee of the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Berlin.

Sat, 27.9. 19.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Péter Esterházy (Hungary)

Why have so many Hungarians been kissed by the muses and become such outstanding authors over the last decades? Only the gods know. But we do know that Péter Esterházy is one of them. He will be reading from his book "Einführung in die schöne Literatur" (t: Introduction to literature), from his new story "Keine Kunst", and about a certain Kornél Esti and his "encounter" with the German language. Esti is no stranger in Hungarian literature; he is the protagonist of a novel by Deszö Kosztolány (1885-1936), who is Esterházy's literary hero.

Sat, 27.9. 19.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Fatou Diome (Senegal/France)

Fatou Diome will be reading from her latest novel "Ketala". Who is the woman that has returned to Africa to die? No one knows anything about her. Her faithful companion and her few possessions threaten to be scattered to the four winds. But before the inheritance is divided, her pieces of furniture remain for six nights and five days to tell the adventure-filled story of their owner to one another...

Sat, 27.9. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Poetry Night III
Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria), Nora Iuga (Romania), Vasyl Makhno (Ukraine/USA), Mihály Víg (Hungary), among others.

Georgi Gospodinov made his debut in 1992 with his volume of poems, "Lapadarium", which was followed by a second volume in 1996. He achieved international fame with his first novel, "Natural Novel" (1999; Eng. 2005), which has since been translated into ten languages. Also a playwright and screenwriter, the successful Bulgarian writer will be presenting his poetry.
Nora Iuga is the "grande dame" of Romanian poetry, and translator of numerous German-speaking authors into Romanian, including Günther Grass, Elfriede Jelinek, and Oskar Pastior, among others.
She will be reading poems from her recently published selected works translated into German - "Gefährliche Launen". Her poems have a timeless freshness, and they explore themes of people's desires, their physicality and their longings.
The Ukrainian poet Vasyl Makhno has lived in New York for the last eight years. His volume of poetry "Plawnyk ryby" (the Fish's Fin) - half of it written in Europe, half in America - is a visible testimony to this transition. Diversity, vigour and the profane are the trademarks of his free verse, as well as the observant, lyrical "I".
Mihály Víg was nominated for the programme "Literatures of the World" by László Krasznahorkai. Hungarian poet, storyteller, musician, actor and composer of film soundtracks, Víg comes from a family of artists. Along with song texts, he has published a volume of poems and novellas, "Versek és novellák

Sat, 27.9. 20.45 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Uwe Timm (Germany)

The author will be reading from his novel, adapted to film in 1985, "Morenga", whose backdrop includes the uprising and defeat of the Herero and Namaqua against their colonial rulers in German South-West Africa. It is considered as the first genocide of the 20th century, in which 80% of the Herero and 50% of the Namaqua were killed. The novel begins with a German head veterinarian's journey to the war zone - and ends with the death of one of the first guerrilla fighters, Jacobus Morenga, the "black Napoleon

Sun, 28.9. 15.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/African Affairs
African and African Diasporic Authors

While Chirikure Chirikure (Zimbabwe) and Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) live and work in their native countries, Kossi Efoui (Togo/France), and Helon Habila (Nigeria/USA) have left Africa. Together they will discuss the writing process in and outside of Africa.

Sun, 28.9. 16.00
Kaleidoscope Haus der Berliner Festspiele
Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan/Spa
Ilija Trojanow presents Jamal Mahjoub - a writer who was born in Khartum an is currently living in Barcelona - and his novel "In the Hour of Signs", the first book in the series "Weltlese", edited by Trojanow. The novel deals with Mahdi, who is considered one of the first fundamental rebels of Islam and successful leader of an uprising against the British colonial rulers in the 1880s. The story is told from his perspecitve as well as from the British side.

Sun, 28.9. 16.45 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/African Affairs
African Feminist Movements
A discussion with Susan Kiguli (Uganda/Great Britain) and Grada Kilomba (São Tomé and Príncipe/Portugal/Germany)

When Susan Kiguli's literary debut was published, she was explicitly labelled a "woman poet"; today she is still asked, what it is like to be a woman as well as a writer. She asks: "Why emphasize that a writer is female?" Grada Kilomba sees herself as a "Black female writer". "We have to understand that gender and 'race' are inseparably connected to each other. Racist constructions are based on gender roles, and vice verSat, gender influences the manner in which 'race' is constructed. It is important for me", she says, "to reflect these complexity in my writings."

Sun, 28.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Reflections/African Affairs
Crossing Africa: Migration into the Paradise Europe?
Azouz Begag (France), Fatou Diome (Senegal/France), Elisabeth Hack (Cameroon/Germany), Rickard Sandell (Sweden/Spain)

Many Africans head off towards Europe - often at the risk of losing their lives. The number of people in migration and flight from Africa isn't comparable with anywhere else on the globe. 10,000 African refugees have drowned while attempting to reach Europe in recent years, according to estimates by the EU-Commission. How should the Europeans deal with this (partially self-induced) challenge?

Sun, 28.9. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Kiran Nagarkar (India)

Susanne Mayer wrote about Nagarkar in the weekly "Die Zeit": "He is one of the boldest, most politically ablaze, sensuous, occasionally crazed and jet-black comic writers of the Indian continent". The author - distinguished with the highest Indian award for literature - the Sahitya Academi Award -will read from two of his novels, "Ravan & Eddie" and "God's Little Soldier".

Sun, 28.9. 20.00, Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Necla Kelek (Germany) with musical accompaniment by the group TAN

For her latest book, "Bittersüße Heimat. Bericht aus dem Inneren der Türkei", Necla Kelek travelled from Istanbul to Kurdistan, in a country whose historical relevance and beauty one can barely escape. She tells of the fissures and ruptured mentalities, the political contradictions and social break-ups, but also of the people who do something to counter the core culture of Islam in its current form.

Sun, 28.9. 20.45 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya/USA)

Binyavanga Wainaina will be reading from his award-winning story "Discovering Home". The story traces a trip the author took from his home in South Africa, to his birthplace in Kenya, and further to Uganda. A scenic and cultural portrait emerges from Wainaina's work, marked by his lively vividness and satirical humour, and alternately reflective passages, which presents the three African countries as colourful and contradictory. The heterogeneous population fluctuates between tradition and modernity, and is carried by a hopeful spirit despite the countries' colonial past and present politics.

Sun, 28.9. 21.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Jon Fosse (Norway)

Jon Fosse, a Norwegian poet and storyteller who has become well known in Germany in recent years for his stage plays, will be introducing his new novella "Sleepless": "Asle and Alida walked around in the streets of Bjørgvin, Asle carried two bundles over her shoulders with all of her belongings, and in her hand she held her fiddle case with the fiddle she had inherited from Sigvald, her father..."

Mon, 29.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/Focus Africa
Megacities: Lagos
Omar Akbar (Germany), Helon Habila (Nigeria/USA)

"People see Lagos as a dangerous place. Almost as if it were a living thing, a beast that devours you." This is how Nigerian author Helon Habila describes the way that the biggest city in his country - and one of the biggest on the continent - is perceived by most people. Is Lagos typical for urban development in the 21st century? Are these examples of urban agglomeration still liveable cities? The author will hold a discussion with the director of Bauhaus, researcher and urbanist, Omar Akbar.
In cooperation with the Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau

Mon, 29.9. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Focus Africa
Alaa al-Aswani (Egypt)

The author of the international bestseller "The Yacoubian Building" will be reading from his latest novel. In "Chicago", Aswani deals with the coexistence of different cultures, and depicts anew the injustices of his homeland under autocratic rule. The action is set in the Histological Institute at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where Americans of different backgrounds and Egyptians cross paths.

Mon, 29.9. 19.45 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Helon Habila (Nigeria/USA)

Helon Habila's literary début, "Waiting for an Angel" was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) and a film adaptation is currently underway. He will be introducing his latest novel, "Measuring Time". The author turns his gaze to rural Nigeria, and, through the story of two unequal brothers, encompasses one hundred years of his country's history.

Mon, 29.9. 20.30, Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Literatures of the World
Natalka Sniadanko (Ukraine)

Sniadanko's novel "Collection of Passions" has cult status in the Ukraine. The story, tinged with traces of the author's autobiography, tells of cardiac arrests that the young Oljessa experiences in a fresh tone and with satirical cadence. Both curious and headstrong, the adolescent explores the possibilities that life opens up to her.

Mon, 29.9. 21.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Boualem Sansal (Algeria)

Boualem Sansal, award-winning author and previous guest at the international literature festival in 2003 and 2004, will be reading from his novel "Harraga". Lamia, a well-off and unmarried paediatrician who has come to terms with her simple life, and Chérifa, a defiant young woman, full of joie de vivre and rebelliousness against the customs of the Islamic world, are the main characters in a milieu that is dominated by the authoritative and the masculine.

Tue, 30.9. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/Focus Africa
Megacities: Cairo
Omar Akbar (Germany), Alaa al-Aswani (Egypt)

Cairo, the biggest city of the Arab world, has been considered for centuries to be a cosmopolitan, open-minded city. Its tolerant climate first changed around the end of the seventies. The moral concepts of the Islamists have come to dominate vast amounts of the public space. The author of the "Yakoubian Building" will be talking with the director of Bauhaus, Omar Akbar, about the past and future of this Egyptian megacity.
In cooperation with the Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau

Tue, 30.9. 19.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Steinunn Sigurdardóttir (Iceland)

The author reads from her new novel "Sólskinshestur". After 25 years Lilla (the little one) meets up with her first love. He invites her to spend the weekend at his country house outside Reykjavík. While anticipating the reunion Lilla remembers episodes of her childhood and discovers unexpected events....

Tue, 30.09. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Sjón (Island) - Prose reading

The multi-facetted artist will read from his award winning novel "Skugga-Baldur". Flitting in the border area between poetry and prose, and against a background of spectacular Icelandic landscapes, various elaborately interwoven plot strands and motifs from Iceland's folklore are played out, portraying the fateful involvement of a fox-hunting country priest in the nineteenth century in the life and death of a girl with Down's Syndrome, who has sought refuge with a natural scientist.

Tue, 30.09. 20.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Marie NDiaye (France)

The author, who was awarded the Prix Fémina, among others, first stormed the French bestseller list with her début novel at the age of 17. She will be reading from her latest novel, "Mein Herz in der Enge" (t: My cornered heart). The novel tells the story of the married couple Nadja and Ange, both dedicated elementary school teachers in Bordeaux. Their once trusted surroundings become foreign and threatening - which has consequences for both them and their relationship.

Tue, 30.9. 21.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Lucette ter Borg (Netherlands)

At the age of 76 the farm manager Landewee decides to leave his native Germany to start a new life in the Canadian wilderness. He only packs the most vital articles: clothing, books, hunting rifles,
records - and the Bechstein piano from his departed wife. In her début work "He cadeau uit Berlijn" Lucette ter Borg narrates the story of a family, their secrets, their loves and of the temptations of self illusion - all underlined by the the magic of music.

Wed, 1.10. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Reflections/Focus Africa
Megacities: Johannesburg
Omar Akbar (Germany), Ivan Vladislavic´ (South Africa)

The South African metropolis, Johannesburg, last made the headlines with news of the xenophobic attacks. Some South Africans see the immigrants from Zimbabwe as competitors for employment. It is a symptom of how fractured the South African cities still are even though the official end of Apartheid is almost 15 years behind them. Ivan Vladislavic´, author of the award-winning "Portrait with Keys" in discussion with the urbanist and director of Bauhaus, Omar Akbar.
In cooperation with the Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau

Wed, 1.10. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Poetry Night IV - China
Ouyang Jianghe (China), Tang Xiaodu (China), Xi Chuan (China), Zhai Yongming (China)

So far only the Chinese writers that belong to the so-called "misty poets" have gained international acclaim, e.g. Bei Dao. Their successors from the late eighties onwards only seem to be known by insiders. Wolfgang Kubin presents a group of poets who in their lyrics use elements of experimental, Western as well as traditional Chinese poetry.

Thu, 2.10. 17.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
International Children's and Youth Literature
Wolf Erlbruch (Germany)

Wolf Erlbruch became world-famous with his children's book, "The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit". His unique style has greatly influenced children's book illustration since the nineties. He will be presenting his considerable oeuvre - from his beginnings as a graphic artist, to his work in advertising, to his work as a children's book illustrator, including his latest book, "The Duck, Death and the Tulip".

Thu, 2.10. 18.00 Uhr Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Literatures of the World | Focus Africa
Dinav Mengestu (Ethiopia/USA)

In his much celebrated literary début, "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears", Dinav Mengestu tells the story of an Ethiopian immigrant to the U.S. who thinks back to his homeland with nostalgia as well as bitterness. With lucid sentences and quiet style, Mengestu portrays the suffering that people cause each other. The German translation of the novel will be published in early 2009.

Thu, 2.10. 19.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Main Stage
Dacia Maraini (Italy)

The author ranks among the modern classic writers of Italy. She gained international acclaim with her bestselling novel "The Silent Duchess". During the seventies her work highlighted the plight of women in various life situations. In the eighties followed a period in which she distanced herself from radical feminism but the role of the female remains the main theme in her writing up to today.

Thu, 2.10. 19.15 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Hans Christoph Buch (Germany)

Hans Christoph Buch will read from his latest novel, "Tod in Habana". Before the backdrop of a morbid Havanna, whose depiction reminds book critic Wolfgang Schneider of images from Tarkovsky films, the German cultural sociologist and expert of postcolonial architecture, Gustav von Achenbach, is mostly looking for fast sex. His name does not coincidentally allude to Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice". The novel is a swan song to the revolutionary Cuba, and a conclusive farewell to the myth that the Left cherished for so long.

Thu, 2.10. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Literatures of the World
Ivan Vladislavic´ (South Africa)

In "Portrait with Keys" Ivan Vladislavic´ paints a vivid and complex portrait of Johannesburg and the new South Africa. Empathically he ambles through his city as observer, collector and participant at the same time. With finely tuned precision and humour he describes the fears, the prejudices and hopes of the inhabitants, creating - in 138 chapters - his personal topography of Johannesburg.

Thu, 2.10. 20.45 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Literatures of the World | Focus Africa
Laila Lalami (Morocco/USA)

Laila Lalami was nominated for the "Literatures of the World" section of the programme by Abdourahman Waberi. Her prize-winning literary début, a short story collection, has been translated into several languages. Laila Lalami will be reading excerpts from her first novel, "The Outsider", which is to be published in early 2009.

Thu, 2.10. 21.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Dieter Bachmann (Switzerland)

Longtime Editor in Chief of the magazine "Du" and head of the Swiss Institute in Rome, the author has been associated with/connected to Rome for decades - although he first moved from his Swiss home in Tessin to Umbria eight years ago. His long essay about Italy, the country that enchants and unsettles him, is an attempt to bring himself closer to the core of the Italian mentality, which he does by condensing his personal, and occasionally outrageous, experiences of the place.

Fri, 3.10. 16.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Rolf Hosfeld (Germany)

In the almost 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell, few other subjects have been so exhaustively researched as the East German state. What was the GDR? Although a mere episode in the history of Communism, it still developed characteristics and values of its own, especially in the Ulbricht era. It was given the task of proving the validity of the Communist experiment in a developed, industrialised country, but this very task was its demise--with initially gigantic, and, under Honecker, rather defensive utopian ideas.

Fri, 3.10. 17.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Elena Trebugova (Russia/UK) discussing Russia in the new century with Manfred Sapper (Germany)

Elena Tregubova was working as correspondent for the Moscow daily paper "Kommersant" when a young journalist. She will be reading from her report "Tales of a Kremlin Digger", about her encounter with Vladimir Putin and the development of a political system which was essentially shaped by him. After the publication of the book in early 2004, a bomb attack was carried out in front of her entrance door. She has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom where she currently lives.

Fri, 3.10. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Literatures of the World
Irina Liebmann (Germany)

"Wäre es schön? Es wäre schön!" is the title of an article written by Rudolf Herrnstadt in the Communist Party organ "Neues Deutschland" in 1951 to encourage the population of Berlin to begin the reconstruction of the destroyed city. Irina Liebman portrays her father as a protagonist of German history, marked by Fascism, war, and his devotion to Communism which ended tragically. The chronicle was awarded the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair.

Fri, 3.10. 19.00 Uhr Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Seitenbühne
Adriaan van Dis (Netherlands)

The writer reads from his latest novel which will be published in German translation in 2009. It is the story of a flâneur in the modern big city, and of a world which is irrevocably divided into two halfs: the districts of the rich and beautiful - and the poor suburbs. A wonderful friendship develops between a rich man and a poor wretch who came to the French capital with a group of African refugees.

Fri, 3.10. 19.30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Literatures of the World
Ulrich Peltzer (Germany)

"You are either part of the problem or part of the solution." "Teil der Lösung", Ulrich Peltzer's current novel takes place in Berlin. The characters move between establishment and protest, terrorism and post-modern theories in a life increasingly controlled by the state. Peltzer creates a movie-like atmosphere of a metropole and subtly combines an endearing love relationship with today's times.

Sat, 4.10. 18.00 Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Side Stage
Climate Change and Africa
"Hotspots". A documentary by Marc Engelhardt und Leila Knüppel (2007/25 Minutes)

No continent is as affected by climate change as Africa. The Kenyan ecologist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai started the call for "Africa's voices against climate change". From the Sahara in the west to the Ethiopian Highlands of the east, he film "Hotspots" documents the dedication of the project's participants.
"Boiling Point": Climate Change in South Africa. A discussion with Leonie Joubert (South Africa)
The renowned scientific journalist Leonie Joubert has specialised in climate change, agriculture and energy. In her publication "Boiling Point", she investigates the signs of climate change in South Africa, using a rooibos tea farmer, fisher, corn farmer, politician and a medicine woman as examples.
In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Sat, 4.10. 19.15 Uhr Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Foyer
Focus Africa
Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone/UK)

It starts with a letter: "The coffee plantation at Rofathane is yours. 'O yi di'. It is there" In her much acclaimed first novel "Ancestor Stones" Aminatta Forna portrays the life of four extremely different women who were married to the same man, namely the grandfather of the author. In a powerful, colourful and poetic manner Forna tells us about the life of these women und about the dwindling of a spiritual world.

After the positive response to our programme section "International Children's and Youth Literature" in past years, we are especially pleased to be able to expand the number of participating guests in the programme section this year. The festival and its (young) audience look forward to 20 authors and illustrators: Malorie Blackman (Great Britain), Anne-Laure Bondoux (France), Wolf Erlbruch (Germany), Timothée de Fombelle (France), John Green (USA), Piet Grobler (South Africa), Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton (Kenya), Ted van Lieshout (the Netherlands), Beatrice Masini (Italy), Meg Rosoff (USA/GB), Veronika Rotfuß (Germany), Thé Tjong-Khing (Indonesia/Netherlands), Einar Turkowski (Germany), and Mats Wahl (Sweden), are among the guests. We are also pleased to be able to present authors whose works have been exclusively translated for the festival, including: Viktor Canosinaj (Albania), Stian Hole (Norway), Xosé Antonio Neira Cruz (Spain), Farshid Shafiee (Iran) and Nahoko Uehashi (Japan)

"International Children's and Youth Literature" section offers once again the programme series 'Author Readings & Workshops for Pupils', the leisure time-focused 'After School and on the Weekend' as well as 'Children's and Youth Literature for Adults'. The spectrum spans from classic readings and opportunities to meet the authors at the main event location to theme-related writing, poetry and illustration studios, as well as varied creative projects in theatres, museums, libraries, schools and other cultural organisations in the whole of Berlin, including literary festivities for the whole family and workshop talks for (young) adults.

The school programme of the 8th ilb is already available at

Online ticket sales have begun at, and the box office sales will begin on September 1st. The complete programme will be available on the festival's website ( and the Berliner Festspiele site ( on August 1st, and the festival programme booklet will be published on September 1st, 2008.

The international literature festival is an event of the Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with the Peter-Weiss-foundation for art and politics e.V.

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