Ilija Trojanow

Some preliminary thoughts on a literary form for the Antarctic

© Kristan Hutchison, License: Creative CommonsIt started with a dream, or rather a nightmare. A man is standing next to the remains of a glacier. The man is a glaciologist, and he has just lost everything he has been studying and devoting his life to. Unable to bear it, his search for solace draws him to the one place where the ice remains unscathed, the Antarctic. He signs on to a cruise ship as a lecturer, expert, expedition leader and guide. The Antarctic’s pristine state exhilarates and troubles him in equal measure, because he knows what will become of it when man takes over. One day he can’t stand this prospect any longer. It is incumbent upon him, he decides, to prevent people encroaching any further upon the Antarctic.

It’s easy having an idea. Tallying it with the facts, imbuing it with plausibility and even credibility are not that hard either. The real difficulties begin when you start to put it down on paper. Writing throws up problems as well as insights. How does one write about the Antarctic, a place that can only be visited for brief periods at a time? How does one write without models? How does one write about the last Terra Nullius, a land that belongs to no one and is inhabited by no one? More ...
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo: Charlotte Collins © Goethe-Institut

Requiem For the Future
Writing a Novel about Catastrophic Climate Change

Although climate change is one of the most urgent problems of the present day, very few attempts have been made to address the topic in literature. Ilija Trojanow’s novel Eistau [Melting Ice] is one exception. In the following article the author explains why he took this as his theme. By Ilija TrojanowMore ...


© Peter-Andreas Hassiepen
Ilija Trojanow (*1965 in Sofia/Bulgaria) is a German writer, translator and publisher of Bulgarian descent. From 1971 to 1984, he lived in Germany, Kenya and Nairobi; from 1984 to 1989, he studied law and ethnology in Munich. In 1998, he moved to Mumbai; from 2003 to 2007, he lived in Cape Town. In the 1990ies, he wrote non-fictional books and travel guides about Africa. In 1996, his first novel The World is Wide and Salvation lurks Everywhere was published. For The Collector of Worlds, he won the prize of the Leipzig Book Fair in 2006. In 2009, he published Attack on Freedom in cooperation with Juli Zeh, which deals with the surveillance state. Ilija Trojanow has won numerous prizes including Mainzer Stadtschreiberpreis 2007 and Würth-Preis für Europäische Literatur 2010.