Author Talk Annette Weisser and Burkhard Bilger in Conversation

Mycelium Mycelium © Semiotext(e)


Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

The Goethe-Institut New York and publisher Semiotext(e) invite you to a conversation between author Annette Weisser and writer Burkhard Bilger about Weisser's new novel Mycelium.

In Mycelium, Noora is going to openings and parties, setting up a studio, breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, and living the post–art school life in Berlin when, in 2005, she's diagnosed with breast cancer. Vaguely restless, until now she's been neither happy nor unhappy, but her entry into what she calls “Cancerland” forces her to question the assumptions by which she lived her life so far. Uneasily, she realizes that the “relationships of the soul” she and her friends value over everything else might not be as indelible as family, after all. 

In this sharp and picaresque first novel, conceptual artist Annette Weisser depicts the transformation of Berlin from the frontier city of the cold war to an international art hub as an analog and backdrop to the chaotic, corporeal transformation Noora undergoes through cancer and its treatments. Written in the casual, associative style of a female coming-of-age novel, Mycelium examines German trauma, art school dramas, and the inevitable parsing into winners and losers that her generation undergoes as they enter their mid-thirties.

Annette Weisser is an artist and writer who lives in Berlin. From 2006 to 2019, she taught in the MFA program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Her writings have appeared in Die Zeit Online, Springerin, Texte zur Kunst, Afterall, and other publications. She has had solo exhibitions at venues including Kunsthaus Dresden, Westfälisches Landesmuseum in Münster, and Reception Gallery in Berlin. The monograph Make Yourself Available was published in 2015 in conjunction with her solo exhibitions at Heidelberger Kunstverein und Kunstverein Langenhagen.

Burkhard Bilger has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 2001. His work has focused on food, science, and American subcultures and has included portraits of ginseng poachers, deep cave explorers, child bullriders, and a cheese-making nun. His pieces have been selected ten times for anthologies in the “Best American" series and his first book, Noodling for Flatheads (Scribner, 2000), was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. Bilger is at work on a book about his grandfather's experiences in WWII to be published by Random House. He is a Branford Fellow at Yale University.