"Languages without Borders" at the Leipzig Book Fair (Germany)

Copyright: ARTE 

The project "Languages without Borders" was present at the spring meeting of the book and media industry in Leipzig. On Sunday, 15 march 2008, Dr. Matthias Makowski (Head of the Language Department, Goethe-Institut) spoke with Ilija Trojanow about poly- and multilingualism. The conversation took place on the ARTE stand in the Glass Hall (Gallery).

What creative potential resides in one's own multilingualism? What is its influence on the artistic mode of expression of the collector of worlds and languages? Ilija Trojanow himself describes various situations in which he uses different languages. For example, he writes poetry in English and prose in German. At home he mostly spoke Bulgarian and with his friends Kisuaheli. He is an author who can be described as a "linguistic and cultural nomad". Someone who builds bridges between continents and cultures.

Dr. Matthias Makowski also spoke with him about the significance of multilingualism in Europe and asked him about his experiences in India and South Africa – two countries in which multilingualism is much more of an everyday phenomenon than in our country and which we like to quote as an example of living multilingualism.

Listen to the conversation as recorded by ARTE.
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Copyright: ARTE

Ilija Trojanow was born in 1965 in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. His family fled to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1971, and he grew up in Kenya and Germany. In Munich he studied law and ethnology and founded the publishing houses Kyrill-und-Method-Verlag and Marino-Verlag. In 1999 Trojanow moved to the Indian city of Mumbai, and from 2003 to 2006 he made his home in Cape Town. His principal place of residence is now Vienna.

In 1996 Trojanow's first, predominantly autobiographical novel "Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall" (Hanser, 1996) [The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Everywhere] appeared, and it established his fame as a writer. There then followed the travel novels "Hundezeiten" (Hanser, 1999) [Dog Days], "An den inneren Ufern Indiens" (Hanser, 2003) [Along the Ganges] or "Zu den heiligen Quellen des Islam" (Malik, 2004) [To the Holy Sources of Islam]. For his 2006 novel "Der Weltensammler" (Hanser, 2006) [The Collector of Worlds] he was awarded the prize of the Leipzig Book Fair and was a finalist for the German Book Prize.


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