Saturday, October 4, 2008

Berlin Literature Fest

Last night I attended the Internationales Literaturfestival.

In my English speaking book club, we had decided to read
Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears. Unbeknown to us until just recently, he had been invited to speak here.

I really enjoyed this book and decided to go. I had no idea what to expect having attended only a few author readings in the US. One of the most memorable author readings was Robert Jordan, a fantasy writer my mother loved. He had quite a following of "characters" when people showed up in Dragon and Elf costumes.

So a few of us from book club decided to head off to listen to this author speak. We actually had quite a few arguments of author's intent and we were armed with questions.

I am going to digress a little to talk about some "characters" of my own that I witnessed on the way to festival. There was a man who got on the train wearing a bow tie around his neck. Not so strange, eh??? Until I looked closer and realized it was plastic, had a clock in it and was flashing LED lights!!!!! I would pay a million dollars to go back in time and snap a pic of this guy but you are just going to have to imagine this. (I even searched all over the Internet for this but can't find anything like it!) Gotta Love Berlin!

I also witnessed some cute little teenage girls who appeared totally normal sitting next to me waiting for the train. Well...they did have lighters....and they were burning extremely small pieces of paper. When they couldn't find any small pieces of paper, they just kept flicking their lighters on and off. Gotta love Pyros!

Anyways, the literature festival was wonderful but complicated as many of the authors they were showcasing were not native German speakers. So, the Moderator would talk in German, the translator would speak quietly at the same time to the author, who would answer the question, and then another person translated back into German.

You would think one would be annoyed at something like this but actually I found it extremely useful to help my German as I was hearing (almost) the same thing said first in my mother tongue and then in German.

After deciding that I loved this book even more after hearing the author speak, I went to go get my book signed. He made a couple remarks about my Chicago accent as he said he had lived there for awhile and answered a couple more questions about the book that I had.

After this ended, we finished it off with conversation and alcohol. G in Berlin encouraged us to try federweiser wine which smelled rather bad but was so light, crisp, and refreshing and only available around this time. I will DEFINITELY be trying to find this again! Don't tip the bottle!

Prost to literature festivals!

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