Zeitgeist Literature Festival INSIDERS – OUTSIDERS: A Reading with Philipp Winkler, Nava Ebrahimi and Meral Kureyshi

Philipp Winkler © Kat Kaufmann; Nava Ebrahimi © Katrin Ohlendorf; Meral Kureyshi © Matthias Guenter Philipp Winkler © Kat Kaufmann; Nava Ebrahimi © Katrin Ohlendorf; Meral Kureyshi © Matthias Guenter

Wed, 03/21/2018

Austrian Embassy Washington

3524 International Court, NW
Washington, DC

In spite of the expected inclement weather, this event will take place as planned. Please see our social media portals for updated information (GoetheDC / Goethe_DC).

On the occasion of the annual Zeitgeist literature festival, the Goethe-Institut Washington, the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Embassy of Switzerland invite three leading novelists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland to America’s capital.

This year’s theme, ‟Insiders – Outsiders” will highlight three compelling new works in German that deal with multiculturalism, migration and xenophobia. Join us in welcoming Philipp Winkler from Germany with Hool (Hooligan), Nava Ebrahimi from Austria with Sechzehn Wörter (Sixteen Words), and Meral Kureyshi from Switzerland with Elefanten im Garten (Elephants in the Garden).

After a welcome reception with traditional delicacies and libations from the host countries, the authors will read to the audience in German and discuss their works in an English-language conversation moderated by Professor Katrin Sieg, Georgetown University. DC-based actor and writer Lilian Oben will read excerpts from the English translations of the works. The audience will have the opportunity to engage with the authors before and after the reading.

Philipp Winkler
For a debut to be shortlisted for the German Book Prize is by no means typical. It is not even seen as a remote possibility – at least for an average author. It is clear however that Philipp Winkler has distinguished himself from ordinary authors; since his debut in 2016 with Hooligan, he has already become a multi-award winner and a grant recipient of the Werkstatt für junge Literatur and the Künstlerhof Schöppingen.

In Hooligan, Winkler tells the story of Heiko Kolbe from first person perspective so clearly – as though he himself had lived as part of the Hooligan-Scene around the soccer club Hannover 96. It is a story of violence and the large heart of a protagonist, who must fight no holds barred to save that without which he could not live: his gang brothers, the good times and their legacy.

Nava Ebrahimi
Nava Ebrahimi, born in Teheran in 1978, studied Journalism and Economics in Cologne, Germany. After finishing her educational track, Nava worked as an editor for The Financial Times Germany and published short stories in anthologies and magazines. In 2007, she was a finalist in the Berlin Open Mike, the most established young authors’ competition in German-speaking Europe. Her first novel, Sixteen Words, was awarded the Austrian Book Prize in the category “Debut 2017.” Nava lives with her family in Graz, Austria, and is currently working on her second novel.

Sixteen Words tells the story of three generations of women and their lives between Germany and Iran. The author delivers a fresh, humorous and unique view on identity, integration and immigration and gives a sense of the Iranian psyche to her (German-speaking) readers.

The protagonist Mona and her mother travel to Iran to attend the funeral of her beloved grandmother, a headstrong and proud woman. The return trip back to her old life in Cologne, a life split between co-working spaces and the club scene, is already booked when Mona’s long-time lover Ramin convinces her to accompany him on his trip to Bam, the city where she was born but which she has never seen as an adult. When Mona’s mother joins the trip, the journey becomes an unexpected confrontation with her identity and origins.

Meral Kureyshi
Meral Kureyshi was born in 1983 in Prizren, former Yugoslavia and present-day Kosovo, and has lived in Bern, Switzerland since 1992. After studying at the Swiss Institute of Literature, she opened Lyrikatelier in Bern, an institution for children’s poetry. Elephants in the Garden is her first novel and was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize 2016.

Meral Kureyshi’s thoughtful debut is a beautiful meditation on the father-daughter relationship, mourning, and the experience of immigration. The narrator of Elephants in the Garden is a girl of twenty-four whose name is never revealed to us. The story starts with the unexpected death of her father, and then moves between recounting the narrator’s struggle to accept this loss and stories from her childhood – both in her former home in Prizren, Kosovo and in Switzerland, where the family move to when the narrator is ten. In the present-day sections, the narrator addresses her father directly, bringing a poignant quality to the narrative. She writes perceptively about the family’s experience of integrating into Swiss life.