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Nickolas Butler

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Nickolas Butler reads from his novel The Hearts of Men (Die Herzen der Männer, Klett-Cotta, 2018)

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.

Nickolas Butler is the author of the novel Shotgun Lovesongs and a collection of short stories entitled Beneath the Bonfire.
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Christian Science Monitor, The Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Progressive, and many other publications. Along the way he has worked as: a meatpacker, a Burger King maintenance man, a liquor store clerk, a coffee roaster, an office manager, an author escort, an inn-keeper (twice), and several other odd vocations. He received numerous prizes and awards for his work.



Holly-Jane Rahlens

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series:

Holly-Jane Rahlens reads from her novel Infinitissimo

“The I of my heart says hello to the you of yours.”

The year is 2264. Despite incredible technical advances, scientists of the twenty-third century are at a loss on how to solve the problem of a decimated human population. The young historian Finn Nordstrom, a specialist for turn-of-the-millennium popular culture, is asked to translate newly discovered diaries written in extinct German. Do the vintage diaries of a young girl from the early twenty-first century hold a secret that can revitalize humankind?

Finn Nordstrom lives in a passionless but otherwise worry-free and peaceful world shaped by community spirit, leaps in science, and the promise of immortality. All is well until he begins decoding Eliana’s diaries. Following the progression of her life from page to page, he becomes fascinated by the young girl blooming into womanhood right before his eyes. Asked to test the authenticity of a virtual-reality game set in the twenty-first century, Finn is stunned to find himself face-to-face with the girl. Caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue orchestrated by powerful physicists, Finn is sent unwittingly on a dangerous mission through time.

“Enthralling, knowledgeable and inventive. … A page turner!” dpa/APA
“Rahlens creates an absorbing social utopia, examines the principles of collective harmony, and clothes it in an utterly intriguing and touching love story.”  NDR
“Infinitissimo is touching, witty, spiked with a wealth of original details, and absolutely delightful. It’s a book for readers of all ages!” ekz
“Rahlens’ imagination is as far-reaching as the universe, her word creations are absolutely brilliant and the story is not just fun and games, but profound, philosophical and universal. Infinitissimo forces us to confront what’s important in our lives today.”  Aviva
Holly-Jane Rahlens, a born New Yorker, grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and graduated from Queens College (City University of New York). She moved to Berlin, Germany, soon after, where she has lived virtually all her adult life. While remaining an American citizen, she has flourished in the German media world, working in radio, television, and film as an actress, producer and commentator as well as creating a series of highly praised one-woman shows. She writes fiction for readers of all ages. In 2003 her first novel for teens, Prince William, Maximilian Minsky and Me, earned the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the best young adult novel published in Germany. In 2006 the Association of Jewish Libraries named it a Sydney Taylor Honor Book. It has since been published in eight languages and was adapted in 2007 into the motion picture Max Minsky and Me, which has garnered praise and awards around the world.

Thomas Chatterton Williams

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Race, Identity, and the Boundaries of Blackness: Thomas Chatterton Williams explores what it means to be a black man of mixed-race heritage with a white-looking daughter and a white wife.

A reading and conversation with Rose-Anne Clermont, journalist and author of Bush Girl.

Thomas Chatterton Williams holds a B.A. in philosophy from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree from the cultural reporting and criticism program at New York University. While a student at NYU, his op-ed piece, “Yes, Blame Hip-Hop,” struck a deep nerve when it ran in the Washington Post, generating a record-breaking number of comments.
Pic: Luke Abiol

Ariel Levy

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Ariel Levy reads from The Rules Do Not Apply (Gegen alle Regeln)

When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood.

In this “deeply human and deeply moving” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being, in her own words, “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed—and of what is eternal.


Ariel Levy joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008 and received the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism in 2014 for her piece “Thanksgiving in Mongolia.” She is the author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs and was a contributing editor at the magazine New York for twelve years.
pic: David Klagsbrun

Tom Drury

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Tom Drury reads from his Grouse County trilogy.

Klett-Cotta published the German translation of Tom Drury’s Grouse County trilogy (The End of Vandalism, Hunts in Dreams and Pacific) together as Grouse County in August 2017.

Tom Drury is the author of Pacific, The End of Vandalism, Hunts in Dreams, The Driftless Area and The Black Brook. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s and the Mississippi Review. Drury has been a Guggenheim Fellow and was named one of Granta‘s “Best Young American Novelists.” He is an alumnus of the American Academy in Berlin and lives in New York.

Photo by Annette Hornischer, courtesy American Academy in Berlin

Zoë Beck

liest aus ihrem neuen Kriminalroman Die Lieferantin.

London, in einer nicht wirklich fernen Zukunft: Ein Drogenhändler treibt tot in der Themse, ein Schutzgelderpresser verschwindet spurlos. Ellie Johnson weiß, dass auch sie in Gefahr ist – sie leitet das heißeste Start-up Londons und zugleich das illegalste: Über ihre App bestellt man Drogen in höchster Qualität und sie werden von Drohnen geliefert. Anonym, sicher, perfekt organisiert.
Die Sache hat nur einen Haken – die gesamte Londoner Unterwelt fühlt sich von ihrem Geschäftsmodell bedroht und will ›Die Lieferantin‹ tot sehen. Ein Kopfgeld wird auf sie ausgesetzt. Ellie beschließt zu kämpfen – ihre Gegner sind mächtig, und sie lauern an jeder Straßenecke.

Zoë Beck

gehört zu den profiliertesten Krimiautor*Innen Deutschlands. Sie schreibt Romane und Erzählungen, übersetzt und leitet zusammen mit Jan Karsten den CulturBooks Verlag. Sie studierte englische und deutsche Literatur u.a. in Gießen, Bonn und Durham und war anschließend Creative Producerin für internationale Fernsehfilmproduktionen. Seit 2004 macht sie Redaktion, Dialogbuch und Regie für Synchronproduktionen. 2010 erhielt sie den Friedrich-Glauser-Preis in der Sparte „Bester Kurzkrimi“,  2014 den Krimipreis von Radio Bremen und 2016 den Deutschen Krimipreis, National Platz 3, für Schwarzblende. Das zerbrochene Fenster wurde von der Jury der KrimiZEITBestenliste unter die zehn besten Kriminalromane im September 2012 gewählt, Brixton Hill im Januar, Februar und März 2014, Schwarzblende im März, April, Mai und Juni 2015. Zoë Becks Romane und Erzählungen wurden bisher in neun Sprachen übersetzt.

Photo: Victoria Tomaschko / Suhrkamp Verlag

Adam Johnson

the U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Adam Johnson, currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow in Fiction at the American Academy in Berlin, reads from Fortune Smiles and work-in-progress.

Adam Johnson is the Phil and Penny Knight Professor in Creative Writing at Stanford University. Winner of a Whiting Award and Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy in Berlin, he is the author of several books, including Fortune Smiles, which won the 2015 National Book Award, and the novel The Orphan Master’s Son, which was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Tin House and The Best American Short Stories. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. Adam Johnson is currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Photo by Tamara Beckwith

Molly Antopol

the U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Molly Antopol, currently the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow in Fiction at the American Academy in Berlin, reads from her novel-in-progress, The After Party.

Molly Antopol’s debut story collection, The UnAmericans, won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award, the French-American Prize, the Ribalow Prize and a California Book Award Silver Medal. The book was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize, among others. The book appeared on over a dozen “Best of 2014” lists. The German translation Die Unamerikanischen came out in 2015. Her writing has appeared widely, including in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR’s All Things Considered and This American Life, online at The New Yorker and in the O.Henry Prize anthology. She’s the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where she teaches creative writing and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

Photo by Debbi Cooper

Paul La Farge

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series:

Paul La Farge, 2016/2017 Picador Guest Professor for Literature at the University of Leipzig, reads from his new novel The Night Ocean

tnocover-smThe novel is about a man who becomes obsessed with an episode from the life of legendary horror author H.P. Lovecraft and then suddenly disappears. His wife then sets off on a desperate search for him.

“It’s about love and trust and betrayal, and the mystery at the heart of any intimate relationship. Everyone has depths that we can’t fathom. Sometimes what’s down there surfaces.” (Paul La Farge)

Paul La Farge was born in 1970 in New York City and studied at Yale University. He has taught creative writing on and off since 2002 at Wesleyan University and Colombia University. He is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and was a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2013-14. His short stories and non-fiction pieces have been widely published in journals, including McSweeney’s, Harper’s Magazine, Fence, Conjunctions, The Believer, Playboy and Cabinet. He is the author of the novels The Artist of the Missing (1999) and Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), for which he received the annual Bard Fiction Prize. His latest novel Luminous Airplanes was published in 2011.

Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series:

Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin read from and discuss their joint novel The Tilted World and their forthcoming works.


Tom Franklin, winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, is the author of a collection of stories, Poachers, which won the Edgar Award for its title novella. He has written three novels, Hell at the Breech, Smonk and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which won the Willie Morris Prize in Southern Fiction, the LA Times Book Award for Mystery/Thriller and the UK’s Golden Dagger Award for Best Novel. Most recently, he co-wrote The Tilted World, a novel, with his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly. He is based in in Oxford, Mississippi, where he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, but is currently the recipient of a fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin.

Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three books of poetry: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, as well as a book of nonfiction, Great with Child, all with W. W. Norton.  The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin, was published by HarperCollins. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs will be published by Norton in the fall of 2017. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.