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Drawn picture; 2 people sit next to each other, inbetween them plays a radioTobias Schrank © Goethe-Institut

Time to Listen

The current situation has forced many people around the world to stay at home. In this isolation, they follow the news about a global crisis and threat. As in Boccaccio’s “Il Decamerone,” and many myths and books from other cultures, the description of the disaster is followed by stories.

The project “Time to Listen” presents a collection of stories – told by narrators from all genres of art, from all over the world.

Portrait of Giuseppe Caputo, Bogota © Giuseppe Caputo

Giuseppe Caputo
The mirror and the shield

The narrator remembers his childhood, when his mother sent him to beg – an experience that recurs in his dreams to this day. How does he feel looking back? 

Portrait of Anita Nair, Bangalore © Anita Nair

Anita Nair
Encounter with the smuggler

Since her childhood, her father has told her about his travels by train – on one of the shortest railway lines in India. But the narrator never manages to take the train herself. Until she finally receives an assignment to write a travel journal on the route – and a trip full of surprises begins, which ends with her witnessing a crime born of necessity. Should the narrator report it?

Portrait of Marius Ivaškevičius, Vilnius © Marius Ivaškevičius

Marius Ivaškevičius
How I did not become a Khakass national playwright

One day, the theater writer Marius Ivaškevičius receives a request from an autonomous republic in Southern Siberia that he is unfamiliar with: he is to become the national theater writer of Khakassia. He declines – but he hadn’t counted on the persistence of the Khakass...

Portrait by Itamar Vieira Junior © Itamar Vieira Junior

Itamar Vieira Junior
Alma’s way

Little is known about Alma who founded a community in the 18th century that is home to 900 families today. Alma was a former slave who walked 400 kilometers on foot from the capital. Itamar Vieira Junior imagines what experiences she had on her way, what thoughts occupied her, what drove her.

Portrait of Lapdiang A. Syiem © Lapdiang A. Syiem

Lapdiang A. Syiem
Dear Mei!

From her apartment, the narrator looks out over a river, a cemetery – and a street between the two; in a sense, between life and death. She tells of her mother, remembers her goddess-like abilities, her quirks. And then she turns to her “Dear Mei!” – her “Dear Mother” – to send her a message between life and death. 

Portrait of Gamel Apalayine © Gamel Apalayine

Gamel Apalayine
Climb every mountain

When David was seven years old, he saw a scene from the Hollywood classic The Sound of Music on television: a nun sings the song “Climb Every Mountain,” which accompanies David from then on and gives him the strength to make a difficult decision at an important point in his life.

Portrait of Alissa Ganieva © Alissa Ganieva

Alissa Ganieva
How I threw myself out of the window

In her school days, Alissa Ganieva discovered a kind of balcony under the window of her classroom one day. Realizing that the others had never noticed it, she bet she could throw herself out the window. And she did, with different consequences than she had foreseen.

Portrait of Jordi Puntí © Jordi Puntí

Jordi Puntí
The locked room

During his studies, Jordi Puntí rented an apartment with friends in Barcelona. The landlord kept the key to a windowless room, which the friends were not allowed to enter. The friends began to speculate: was there a pornographic collection inside? Wasn’t there a light coming from under the door? Was it a gateway to hell? What was the secret in the locked room?

Portrait of T. C. Boyle wearing a beanie © T. C. Boyle

T. C. Boyle
The Bear

A trip with the family, a house in the forest. The marinated chickens sizzling on the campfire – attracting unexpected visitors. T. C. Boyle tells a story with a surprising twist that shows that, even in the worst situations, there can still be redemption.  

Portrait of Gali Mir Tibon; she has long hair and wears a green shirt © Gali Mir Tibon

Gali Mir-Tibon
How I betrayed my mother

Gali’s mother came to Israel as an orphan from Bukovina, where she had used her sewing skills to ensure her children’s survival. Gali is ashamed of her mother because she is not a native Israeli and, despite her mother’s help, she fails her sewing course at school.

Igiaba Scego © Igiaba Scego

Igiaba Scego
A short-lived utopia

Impressions from a street in Rome, completely different from the others. People that aren’t chasing after material things, that are following their stories in their thoughts and perceiving a color that keeps coming back...

Portrait of Simon Stranger © Simon Stranger

Simon Stranger
Waiting in the big wide ocean

19-year-old Simon sails for a year on a small ship with a friend and his father through the Mediterranean, along the French and Spanish coasts. Despite a shipwreck, they decide to continue without an engine, just like in the old days.

Herta Müller © Herta Müller

Herta Müller
Foxes go into the trap. Not me!

As a child in Romania, Herta Müller wants to get a new winter coat. One with a collar and cuffs made of fox fur. While choosing the fox fur, she notices the similarity between fox and hunter. The secret service later follows her into her apartment, leaving signs behind.

Hallgrimur Helgason © Hallgrimur Helgason

Hallgrímur Helgason
The steak is maybe too well done

As a visual artist in New York, Hallgrímur Helgason receives a visit one day from a fellow Icelander who becomes increasingly drunk during the course of the evening. This leads to a significant faux pas at dinner.

Portrait of Sofi Oksanen © Sofi Oksanen

Sofi Oksanen
Where a better future was designed

Sofi Oksanen tells of a place where in the days of the Soviet Union – unobserved by the state – a free exchange of ideas could thrive. A place where dreams and hopes were preserved for decades and a unique art has been cultivated for generations...

Portrait of Shamin Chibba © Shamin Chibba

Shamin Chibba

Shamin Chibba narrates the story of his grandmother. In telling the story, present and past flow into each other: memories of a hard life, political events in India, twists of fate and everyday experiences...

Jeaninne Masika Harrysson © Jeaninne Masika Harrysson

Jeaninne Masika Harrysson
Take my story!

The words in this poetic text push back against the fear and the feeling of loneliness that creep up on us in these times, concluding with the line, “...this is how love is born.”

Portrait of Ken Follett © Ken Follett

Ken Follett
The 99th Wife

Catherine is married off to the sultan by her father, the Czar. She is his 99th wife and right after their wedding the sultan forgets about her. At a disco organized by the sultan, the musicians are blindfolded. Suddenly, the blindfold on the handsome guitarist slips, and the story takes its course...

Portrait of Bae Suah © Bae Suah

Bae Suah
Like panthers on empty streets

Bae Suah is on a writing residency in Morocco when her stay takes on a surprising new form, leading to fresh impressions, such as the sight of cats roaming empty streets like panthers, looking like prophets in disguise.

Picture of Pavlina Marvin in the forest © Pavlina Marvin

Pavlina Marvin
A coat with all its flowers

Pavlina Marvin tells of her friend Irini, who gave her a floral coat during their studies. She wears the coat to this day, as it hasn’t lost any of its flowers. When both of them wanted to meet in Athens recently, Irini didn’t show up. She was looking after an Indian man who had lost his job due to the pandemic and was in great distress.

Image of Michal Hvorecký in front of a book shelf © Michal Hvorecký

Michal Hvorecký
Do you have my grandfather’s books?

The writer and translator Michal Hvorecký works in a library in Bratislava, where one day a gentleman came in and introduced himself as the grandson of a world-famous writer. This encounter would have consequences.

Image of Steinunn Sigurðadottir in front of a painting © Steinunn Sigurðadottir

Steinunn Sigurðadottir
A gift from my father

The story of Steinunn Sigurðadottir begins at the foot of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, where a maid was impregnated in 1910 – by a landlord. She had to leave the farm because of this, which was unfortunately common in those days. She travelled to Reykjavík on foot, which took seven days at that time.

Thus begins a journey through the decades, at the end of which the story of Steinunn’s life begins. And a gesture of generosity and kindheartedness is revealed.

Realization: Thomas Böhm (texts, editing and design), Dr. Anne-Bitt Gerecke, Martin Bach, Marie Kiewe (editing and design), Marcus Sporkmann (video editing) and Eliphas Nyamogo (editing)


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