Time to Listen

Finally…! Illustration: Tobias Schrank © Goethe-Institut

‘Finally’ is a word that can equate to a sigh of relief - an upsetting situation has finally come to an end. Or it can equally well herold a mighty conclusion, a furious finale. Look and listen to see how our storytellers deploy the word ‘finally’!

Hinemoana Baker © Hinemoana Baker

Hinemoana Baker, Berlin
Driving home

When she moved to Berlin, New Zealand writer Hinemoana Baker discovered that she oddly liked the smell of gasoline that surrounds gas stations. But because she has reservations about driving for environmental reasons, she got to the bottom of this surprising preference.

Einar Kárason © Einar Kárason

Einar Kárason, Reykjavík
It was at the end of a long day

Icelandic writer Einar Kárason remembers how he once worked in a port. Into the daily routine came a message...

Antje Rávik Strubel © Antje Rávik Strubel

Antje Rávik Strubel, Potsdam
It's not true

Some enjoy telling  their stories, others prefer to listen. So can people, including writers, be divided into two distinct groups? Antje Rávik Strubel had long assumed she belonged to one group rather than the other - until she was told a story that seriously challenged her (self-)perception.

Saša Stanišić © Saša Stanišić

Saša Stanišić, Reykjavík
How does the Arctic fox change its coat?

Over the last few years Saša Stanišić has played a story-telling game with his young son: the boy gives him three words, and he then makes a story out of them. All of the stories begin with him driving away in a taxi - and end with him happily coming back home again. While at the Literature Festival in Reykjavík he invented a story specially for us - using the words ‘fox’, ‘volcano’ and ‘T-shirt’.

Zaia Alexander © Zaia Alexander

Zaia Alexander, Potsdam / Los Angeles

Los Angeles has become part of the author’s very being. The city is a living presence within her in many of her distinctly magical memories: journeys along empty streets, lemon blossom, the splendour of palm trees silhouetted against the night sky, the seasons so subtly differentiated that people who live in places with ‘proper’ seasons aren’t even aware of them. She carries LA with her wherever she goes, until finally she returns there.

Colm Tóibín © Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín, Dublin
The Magician

Colm Tóibín wrote his most recent novel, The Magician, in Los Angeles. The book concerns Thomas Mann, who in the 1940s also lived in LA - in a house that was built to his own specification, and in which he wrote his novel Dr Faustus. Although the house was close by, Tóibín couldn’t visit it because of the pandemic, with the result that it remained a house of dreams full of inspiring treasures - though it did ultimately open its doors once again.

Kristof Magnusson © Kristof Magnusson

Kristof Magnusson, Reykjavík
No problem for Mountain Rescue

He hasn’t the faintest idea how he had come to be sitting at the same table as a mother claiming to have once lived in this same house - along with her daughter’s  erstwhile boyfriends. The last of these ex-boyfriends had waited every day for the return of the daughter, who worked as a mountain guide. But on many occasions the daughter had simply not come home...

Þórarinn Eldjárn © Þórarinn Eldjárn

Þórarinn Eldjárn, Reykjavík
By the end: somewhere else altogether

The Icelandic writer Þórarinn Eldjárn recalls an event - an everyday event - that happened quite a long time ago. But suddenly a strange object pops up in his account. He takes hold of it, and...