The 19th Berlin International Literature Festival will begin from 11th September, 2019

(By S.S.Dogra

The 19th international literature festival berlin (ilb) will take place from September 11–21, 2019. It is one of the world’s most renowned literature festivals.229 authors from over 60 countries and representing the genres of prose, poetry, non-fiction, graphic novel, and children’s and young adult literature will be guests at the 19th ilb.

The program will be shaped by three thematic focus areas:»Decolonizing Worlds II«, »About:Sex«, and »Automatic Writing 2.0« within the framework of the Science Year theme »artificial intelligence«.

Kickoff and Opening
The city of Berlin will get into the festival mood with »berlin reads« on September 8. On this day, interested Berliners are invited to stage readings from literary works of their choice at a location of their choice. 
The official opening of the festival will take place on September 11, 2019 with a keynote speech by the writer and lawyer Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe) at HAU1 Hebbel am Ufer. The opening will be followed by the premiere of Raoul Schrott’s (Austria) new novel »Eine Geschichte des Windes. Oder von dem deutschen Kanonier, der erstmals die Erde umrundete und dann ein zweites und drittes Mal« (tr: A Story of the Wind, or of the German Gunner Who Circumnavigated the World for the First Time and then a Second and a Third Time).

The Guests
In the core category of Literatures of the World, around 60 events will take place including many book premieres. The participants include: André Aciman (Egypt/ USA), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Benyamin (India), Nora Bossong (D), Esi Edugyan (Canada), Tomas Espedal (Norway), Sherko Fatah (D), Édouard Louis (F), Nicolas Mathieu (F), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria/ USA), Tommy Orange (USA), Claudia Piñeiro (Argentina), Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala), Karina Sainz Borgo (Venezuela/ Spain), Dag Solstad (Norway), Ocean Vuong (Vietnam/ USA), and many others.
On »Poetry Night« on September 13, Nouri Al-Jarrah (Syria/ GB), Ghayath Almadhoun (Syria/ S), Hussein Bin Hamza (Syria/ D), Don Mee Choi (South Korea/ USA), Maren Kames (D), Meena Kandasamy (India/ GB), Eileen Myles (USA), Que Mai Nguyen Phan (Vietnam/ Indonesia), Vera Pavlova (Russia/ USA), and Joachim Sartorius (D) will perform. On September 14 there will be a Sinti und Roma Poetry Night with Karl-Markus Gauß (Austria), Dotschy Reinhardt (D), and Jovan Nikolic (Serbia/ D), among others.
An evening for Etel Adnan (Lebanon/ F) will honor the work of the 94-year-old author in a conversation and reading. Actress Corinna Harfouch will read from Adnan’s texts. In the absence of the author, Elena Ferrante’s (I) novel »The Days of Abandonment«, which has just been published in a new German translation, will be presented and excerpts read by actress Eva Mattes.

On »Graphic Novel Day« on September 15, which was curated by Lars Törne, new notable European graphic novels will be presented. On the eve of Graphic Novel Day the award-winning writer Mathias Énard (F) will present the graphic novel »Zuflucht nehmen« (tr: Taking Refuge): a love story that oscillates between Afghanistan in 1939 and Berlin in 2016 that was created together with the comic artist Zeina Abirached.

In the new series »THE ART OF WRITING«, the authors Florian Illies (D), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Maxim Biller (D), and Alain Mabanckou (Congo/ USA) will answer questions about their writing.

Category: Reflections
Political discussions will be devoted to current topics of world history: from Bolsonaro’s Brazil (with Perry Anderson, Djamila Ribeiro, and Luiz Ruffato) and the government crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua (with Sergio Ramírez and Karina Sainz Borgo) to the situation in Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (with guests including Susanne Koelbl, Guido Steinberg, and Madawi Al-Rasheed). The philosopher Didier Eribon (F), writers Édouard Louis (F) and Tash Aw (Malaysia/ GB) as well as the philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnery (F) also stand for the political power of literature. They will all be guests at the 19th ilb from September 19–21 and, in addition to presenting their own work, will discuss their positions on the yellow vests movement and France under Macron.The politicization of literature is also paradigmatically evident in the form of the Latin American Crónicas. Authors Leila Guerriero (Argentina) and Oscar Martínez (Venezuela) present their reality-laden and poetic reports. On September 16 at HAU1, Robert Habeck (D) and Joschka Fischer (D) will speak about 40 years of the Green Party in Germany and the current political situation.

The category »memory, speak« takes a look at Paul Bowles’ (USA/ Morocco) Tangier, James Baldwin’s (USA) essay collection »The Fire Next Time«, Jörg Fauser‘s (D) intoxicating beat and reportage texts and Boris Poplavsky’s (Russia) emigrant scene in Paris in his poetically brimming novel

»Apollo Unformed«.Category: Science and the Humanities
This is where science and literature collide. Writer David Wagner (D) and doctor Michael de Ridder (D) will discuss Literature and Medicine. The effects of escape and trauma on the human psyche will be the focus of the conversation between Andreas Heinz (D), Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Charité, and the author Mustafa Khalifa (Syria/ F), who deals with his long years of imprisonment in Aleppo in his novel »The Shell«.Within the framework of Science Year 2019 the special event series »Automatic Writing 2.0« is dedicated to the linguistic, societal, and philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence. Short stories created exclusively for the festival will be exchanged by an international ensemble of guests who will consider current and future uses of AI – from everyday implementations to transhumanist visions. Besides the readings, panel discussions will address the interplay of the history of ideas and technology and the nuances of an increasingly complex human-machine interaction. Participants include, among others, experimental poet Ann Cotten, Afrofuturist Jonathan Dotse, cyberpunk novelist Simon Ings, Barbadian fantasy author Karen Lord, essayist Mark O’Connell, and Swedish weird-fiction-reviver Karin Tidbeck, as well as consciousness researcher Uziel Awret, media philosopher Sybille Krämer, founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Winfried Menninghaus, professor of brain simulations Petra Ritter, and mathmetician Marcus du Sautoy.

Category: Specials
This year, the festival will continue to incorporate its own thematic accents that link panel discussions and readings within the event series.

The special »ABOUT: SEX« illuminates the history of human sexuality and introduces neurological research and artistic work that deal with desire and sexuality. Among others, André Aciman (Egypt/ USA), author of the novel that inspired the popular film »Call Me By Your Name«, will speak about homosexual desire. Eileen Myles (USA) will present her autobiographical queer cult piece »Chelsea Girls«, which unfolds against the backdrop of the 1970s New York literary scene. The author of »Sexuell verfügbar« (tr: Sexually Available), Caroline Rosales (D), will talk about modern sex. Anna Gien (D) and Marlene Stark (D) will read from their much-discussed novel »M«. John Danaher (Ireland) and Sophie Wennerscheid (D) will take a look at the future of sexuality: robot sex. Joseph Vogl will discuss philosophy and sex in the work of Michel Foucault. Finally, on a late night of readings, actors will present good and bad sex scenes in literature. All events will take place at silent green Kulturquartier in Wedding.

With the special »DECOLONIZING WORLDS II«, the ilb continues its multi-year event series on the decolonization complex that was initiated in 2018. The question of restitution will be discussed by Guido Gryseels from the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, as well as Wiebke Arndt from the Übersee-Museum Bremen, Lars Christian Koch from the Humboldt Forum, and Dan Hicks from the University of Oxford. The writers José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) and Luiz Ruffato (Brazil) will talk about the traces of Portuguese colonialism than can still be found in the cultural and biological DNA of Brazil today. Dipesh Chakrabarty will speak about the decolonization of history scholarship. David Diop will present his Prix Goncourt-nominated novel »Nachts ist unser Blut schwarz« (Orig. »Frère d’âme«), a powerful story of Senegalese soldiers in the French army during World War I. Additionally, writer Tash Aw (Malaysia/ GB) will discuss the history of British colonialism in India and Malaysia. This special will take place at the James Simon Gallery.

On »Third Culture Kid Day« on September 21, which will take place in cooperation with the Temporal Communities excellence cluster, Kaveh Akbar, Michel Faber, and Chibundu Onuzo will read from their work. All three experienced a switch of cultures during their youth. A discussion round with researchers from the »Temporal Communities – Doing Literature in a Global Perspective« excellence cluster will address writing beyond national borders.Due to renovations, the festival will not take place at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. The new event venues are HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the James Simon Gallery on Museum Island, the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin and the silent green Kulturquartier in Wedding. The complete program will be announced on August 16. Ticket sales began on July 10.

International Children’s and Young Adult Literature
The festival category International Children’s and Young Adult Literature will offer events featuring, among others, Elizabeth Acevedo (USA), Erin Entrada Kelly (USA), Enne Koens (NL), Xun Liu (China), Rose Lagercrantz (S), Iain Lawrence (Canada), Sebastian Meschenmoser (D), Mårten Sandén (S), Tobias Steinfeld (D), and Rafael Yockteng (Peru/ Colombia). They will premiere their new books in readings and at various workshops. 
On the occasion of Norway’s role as Guest of Honor at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair, the category will include Spotlight Norway featuring such guests as Gro Dahle, Linde Hagerup, Sissel Horndal, Torun Lian, Gry Moursund and Svein Nyhus. Illustrations from Gry Moursund’s Billy Goats Gruff books will be exhibited at the KRUMULUS bookstore.
For the Automatic Writing 2.0 project, Noelia Blanco (Argentina/ F), Bernard Beckett (New Zealand), and Karl Olsberg (D) will present short stories written exclusively for the youth section of the ilb on the topic of artificial intelligence and will discuss the books they have written on this topic. At LesArt – Berliner Zentrum für Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, there will be an exhibition with an accompanying program surrounding Michael Ende’s book THE NEVERENDING STORY, for which Sebastian Meschenmoser has created new illustrations.

Furthermore, the works honored as Exceptional Books by the ilb children’s program will be exhibited at the Philipp Schaeffer library in Berlin-Mitte. In addition, several events will return: the Family Party will take place at the yellow villa for the 17th time, the ilb U20 Poetry Slam for the 10th time, the finale of the Lesefüchse-Debattierwettbewerb debate competition for the 5th time, and a second cooperation with the THEO-Preis für Junge Literatur. In cooperation with Young Euro Classic, the project EUROPE – My home? My future? – for which Berlin school students have pondered, written, discussed, and created poetry and music about these questions – will take place for the first time. 
The program for the International Children’s- and Young Adult Literature category is already available. For ticket presales and information please email or call (030) 278786–66/–70.