Against a blue and yellow background, a dove of peace approaches a young woman with her nose ring covered with some kind of slate in front of her head, doodles hovering around her. Posters adorning flyers and posters for the Literature Festival 2022 at a glance show what was needed for a number of words at this week’s press conference: The 13th Festival’s program is extensive and at the same time small in size, War and Peace plays a central role, and it will be across the media and fairly young What, in the end hopefully a lot of bump has given way to a sudden realization.
In other words, it’s expected to be really tense and exciting between November 16 and December 4. The program “looks in terms of scope and content like a festival in pre-pandemic times,” says Tanya Graf, Director of the Literature Festival, at Literaturhaus, “yet we had less time to plan for five months.” It wasn’t until the end of March that a festival including a focal forum could actually be implemented; Soon the Ukrainian writer Tanya Malgarchuk was appointed as curator, the Munich book fair was relocated and the “Munich Track” was launched for the first time.
The program is now set, and presales are in progress – whatever happens. Because whatever happens in the third pandemic fall, says Graf, the program must be carried out without restrictions. Thanks to streaming technology, one is prepared for all scenarios, at least at Literaturhaus. And even if cultural consultant Anton Bebel complains about a “certain reluctance” of spectators that can be observed at many cultural events, he is sure: “If the program is correct, the houses will be full.” In the Literature Festival there was no “doubt” in his mind, which is why the city’s festival – supported by a number of other collaboration partners – continues to receive previous years’ budget “without strings” despite the need to cut costs. There was also a ‘greater than five digit’ increase for the new focus in Munich.
But from Munich, it is important to look at the world first. In Tania Malgarczuk, Forum Curator, Tanya Graf finds a writer who is “aware of the deeper structures of the current crisis”. Against the background of the Ukrainian war, your slogan “Be Free” needs no further explanation, but the addition of “Retelling of Central Europe” does not need further explanation. The writer, who has lived in Vienna for more than ten years, has long realized that “Ukraine and its culture, which has been independent for thirty years, has not found an independent place in the imagination of the West.” Ukraine, just a “subordinate to post-Soviet Russia”? For Maliarchuk, the country belongs to Central Europe, in an “undefined region of small states between Germany and Russia, whose right to existence and self-determination are frequently questioned” and for whose inhabitants, unfortunately, the predominant form of travel is aviation.
Malyarchuk wants to change that and has recruited more than 20 other Ukrainian writers and artists, some of whom will come with great difficulty – including such notable names as Andrei Kurkov, Yuri Andrukhovych and peace prize winner Serhiy Zhadan, who also brings his ska punk band with him. But under the heading “As a Writer in the Foreground,” there will also be a potentially interesting conversation with authors Artem Cappie and Artem Chesh, who are fighting the war themselves. Nobel laureate Herta Müller will come to talk about the nature of dictatorships, and authors such as Georgy Gospodinov, Sofia Andrukhovich, Katya Petrovskaya and Robert Minas are expected to study a symposium focusing on “evil” itself and the room opera “Wasil Stuss”. Former defector Stus on high price resistance. Maliarchuk says it has become “a somewhat political program” and an “intellectual challenge”. But the most important thing at the moment is talking to each other in a variety of constellations, redesigning contexts, and seeking allies: “This is my contribution to the European project, which I have always believed in and in which I continue to believe,” she concludes, “where Ukraine belongs.
If the word “homeless” is used in a completely different context, it may seem strange at first. But the Munich Book Fair has also felt homelessness in its 63rd year, explains Klaus Vorder, president of the Bavarian State Federation of the German Book Trade Association. In light of Gasteig’s closure, a new exhibition space has been sought for the traditional book show – and found on the ground floor of the Literaturhaus, this time around 100 publishers will present more than 4,000 titles. Another event or event will also take place at home, for example with last year’s Geschwister-Scholl-Prize winner Joe Sacco. The current prize winner will also be known by then.
Other events from the book fair will move to HP8 this year, says Frederic Eckelshult, who has replaced longtime coordinator Frieder with Thomas Kraft as program coordinator. The range ranges from Andrej Kurkow – as forum arc – to best-selling crime author Charlotte Link and Emily Fried and Shammy’s companion there just as much as non-fiction writer Andrea Wolff and travel journalist Michael Martin. Edith Offerman has also prepared a rich children’s and family program with authors ranging from Jonathan Stroud to Kirsten Boye, which aims to ensure the “vibration” of the Literaturhaus School.
The festival program of the House of Literature should also contribute to this, which this time focuses on “Literature Beyond the Written Word” (Graf) – for example with evenings with Munich author and director Jovanna Reisinger, with director Edgar Ritz or in honor of Helmut Dietl. Which brings us to the “Münchner Schiene” which, according to his curator Benedikt Feiten, proves to be very “communicatable”. Witten, who probably should no longer conscientiously be described as the “young Munich writer” at the age of 40, has put together a program that seems modern and fresh. The fact that the task “fills him with dread”, yes “sometimes nervously approaching panic”, hopefully will soon be replaced by his anticipation.
Because there is no reason to panic on the occasion of the multimedia programme, mixed with color and keen on experience, which docks at other locations in the Favorite Bar or Bellevue de Monaco. And perhaps a new audience will win: in Bellevue, for example, this residential and cultural center (not only) for refugees, everyone should dine together at long tables on an evening on the theme of “community” and get motivated for good conversations through short readings. It is important to Witten that there is a risk in an ‘uncertain outcome’ and that there must always be an ‘unexpected opportunity’. And hopefully, this applies to the entire festival: after all, it’s about tearing the slates away from our heads.
Munich Literary Festival, November 16 – December 4, info and tickets via www.literaturfest-muenchen.de