Welcome to the fifth exciting year of Festival Neue Literatur! With its finger on the pulse of today’s German-language literary scene, this festival brings six of the best writers from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland to New York City for a long winter weekend. This array of white-hot storytelling will warm the coldest of days.
The novels featured in this year’s festival range across a multitude of countries, cultures, and historical periods and offer a vivid counterbalance to the homogenizing tide of depoliticized ‘global novels’. With precise observation, stunning detail, and colorful characters, these writers portray men and women buffeted by shifting world orders, stranded on foreign territory at home and abroad.
Storytelling is paramount in these novels and the styles are as varied as the subjects. These include the Slovenian speaking minority in Austria during the Second World War and after, emigrés from the Hungarian speaking region of Serbia who must watch, helplessly, from the safety of Switzerland as the family they left behind is caught in the maelstrom of the Balkan War, refugees from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or from ethnic violence in Azerbaijan trying to find a foothold in Europe, as well as the socially unmoored who meet on a park bench in Tokyo and the brief but blazing life of the Hungarian-Indian Modernist painter Amrita Sher-Gil.
This year’s participants, Milena Michiko Flašar (Austria), Olga Grjasnowa (Germany), Maja Haderlap (Austria), Abbas Khider (Germany), Melinda Nadj Abonji (Switzerland), and Richard Weihe (Switzerland) will be joined by U.S. authors Monique Truong and Keith Gessen for a series of conversations and readings throughout the city.