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NoViolet Bulawayo

Black History Month/The U.S. Embassy Literature Series 2023 – NoViolet Bulawayo reads from her novels We Need New Names and Glory

Moderated by Anne Potjans, Humboldt University

NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of the novels Glory and We Need New Names, which was recognized with the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Pen/Hemingway Award, the LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the Fred Brown Literary Award, the Betty Trask Award, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award (second place) and the National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Fiction Selection. We Need New Names was also shortlisted for the International Literature Award, the Man Booker Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She has taught fiction writing at Cornell and Stanford Universities. She grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and is currently writing full-time from the wherevers.

The most translated author in modern Zimbabwean history, she is the first Black African Woman to be selected for the Booker List twice, and is one of only two African writers, the other being Chigozie Obioma, to be listed for both her debut and follow-up novel.

Since October 2022, Anne Potjans has been a postdoctoral researcher in the EU-funded research project Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she currently investigates the relationship between queer subcultural spaces and discourses on race and racism in Germany and the United States. Earlier in 2022, she completed her doctoral degree with a dissertation on “‘Why Are You So Angry?’” – The Uses of Rage and Anger in Black Feminist Literature” in the American Studies program at Humboldt and is a joint winner of Peter Lang’s competition New Perspectives in Black Studies, for which she received a publishing contract with Peter Lang in 2021.  Apart from that, she has worked on diasporic connections between African American and Black German feminist autobiographical writing in the post-World War II period and the intersections of Blackness, sexuality, and racial visibility in German film productions. She was an exchange faculty in the Honors program at the University of Washington in the fall of 2019 and has presented and published her research both nationally and internationally.

Casual Baggage

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series | International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Selected Readings from the Play Casual Baggage by Michael Lederer

With Harvey Friedman as Ivo, Daniel Grave as Michael, Sarai Cole as Rada, Mareile Metzner as Player One, and Alexander Schröder as Player Two

Followed by a discussion with the playwright, moderated by Daniel Brunet

Based on the true story of a small group of Jewish refugees admitted into America during WWII. Numbering less than a thousand, they were kept behind barbed wire in an internment camp upstate NY until the war’s end. Years later, one survivor from that group finds it easier to share his story with a young Black woman he has just met than with his own US-American-born son.

Michael Lederer is a playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer and essayist. He was born in Princeton, New Jersey, where his father Ivo Lederer was a professor of Contemporary European Diplomatic History. He grew up in New Haven, New York City, and Palo Alto, California. Lederer has lived in London, Spain, Vienna, Dubrovnik, and Berlin. Member Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA, AEA, PEN International, National Arts Club, NYC, Players Club, NYC. B.A., Theatre Arts, Binghamton University. Original acting member of Tony award-winning TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Founding Artistic Director of Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival, 2009-2012. His script Saving America was a 2019 winner PAGE International Screenwriting Award. His novel Cadaques was selected by the U.S. Embassy Berlin for their US-American Literature Series 2014. He has published two collections of short stories, The Great Game: Berlin-Warsaw Express and Other Stories, 2012; also In the Widdle Wat of Time, 2016. He has written for Politico and contributes regular essays about politics and expat life to the American Studies Journal.

The Cactus League

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series: Emily Nemens in conversation with Musa Okwonga

Emily Nemens reads from her debut novel The Cactus League and talks with Musa Okwonga about baseball and its impact on US-American society, identity, fan culture, literature and the Picador Guest Professorship.

This event is part of the U.S. Embassy Literature Series and is presented by the Picador Guest Professorship for Literature in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy and the English Theatre Berlin | International Performing Arts Center.

European Drama from Poland and Ukraine

Staged Reading and Panel Discussion

European Drama from Poland and Ukraine

Reading and panel discussion with Olha Mazjupa and Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk

Theater scholar Iwona Uberman and translator Andreas Volk introduce the Polish playwright Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and the Ukrainian playwright Olha Mazjupa. We will read from their texts Der Schriftsteller (Sikorska-Miszczuk) and Richtung Osten fliegt der Ball (Mazjupa). We will discuss with the authors how a Polish playwright came to write a play about Salman Rushdie in the year 2020 and whether the socially critical comedy by a Ukrainian author might still provoke laughter in 2022. We will also ask the authors why drama from Poland and Ukraine has such a hard time finding its way onto German-language stages.

“For me, Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk is a theatrical free spirit. The protagonists of her plays are often well-known personalities from (contemporary) history, through whom she deals with the great existential questions in an ironic and entertaining way. In doing so, she always succeeds masterfully in maintaining the balance between the seriousness of the content and our grotesque reality,” explains Andreas Volk (translator of Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk).

The statement from the Heidelberger Stückemarkt jury describes Olha Mazjupa as finding “many different scenic styles to make her story shine and to escalate the scenario – small, sharp, gruff dialogues, silent scenes of everyday tasks, surreal images. Olha Mazjupa’s text is what, absurdly, a play must be, an unfinished work of art that cries out for the stage where it is to be finished.”


Olha Mazjupa, born in 1988 in Pidbirzi near Lviv, is a playwright and theater studies scholar. She studied Serbian language and literature at the Ivan Franko University Lviv and graduated with a PhD from the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin in theater and literary studies. Her plays have been performed in Lviv, Chust, Sievierodonetsk and Chernivtsi, and she has worked with theatres in Rzeszów and Sosnowiec. In 2017, her play Öko-Ballade won the internation author prize at the Heidelberger Stückemarkts.



Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk is a multi-award winning playwright, librettist and scriptwriter in Poland and abroad. She studied journalism and political science at the University of Warsaw. She is also a graduate of the scriptwriting program at the State School for Film, Theater and TV in Łódź. Recipient of scholarships from CEC ArtsLink in the USA, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Stiftung Genshagen. Author of plays that are performed both in the original and in translation, as well as radio plays, opera libretti, film scripts and plays for children. In 2011, she was invited to the Berliner Stückemarkt.



We are very pleased to partner with Drama Panorama to host this event. Please click HERE to read the complete event information on their website.

Hanoch Levin

Staged Reading and Panel Discussion

Israeli dramatist Hanoch Levin and his translations into German – staged reading, panel discussion and book launch: Die im Dunkeln gehen

Hanoch Levin (1943–1999) was the most important Israeli dramatist of the 20th century, whose work left important artistic and socio-political marks on the Israeli theater. Today, his plays are part of the canon in Israel and are frequently produced. Levin is also well known and performed in other countries, especially France and Poland, while many of his plays remain yet to be discovered in Germany.

Translations and productions must help to make this happen. Matthias Naumann published the first German monograph on Levin (Dramaturgie der Drohung. Das Theater des israelischen Dramatikers und Regisseurs Hanoch Levin. Marburg: Tectum 2006) and initiated the first German-language productions with his translations of Levin’s plays. Now six of Levin’s plays will appear for the first time in German translation in the anthology Die im Dunkeln gehen (Berlin: Neofelis Verlag 2022).

Israeli theater studies scholar Freddie Rokem and translator Matthias Naumann will present the new book Die im Dunkeln gehen and together with Barbora Schnelle (who will moderate the discussion) and director Antje Thoms, who directed the first German-language production of Levin’s Das Kind träumt in Augsburg in 2018, will discuss which of Levin’s plays are interesting for German-language stages and audiences, along with which challenges they pose to translations and         productions.

In a staged reading, we will present excerpts from Das Kind träumt and other plays from the book Hanoch Levin: Die im Dunkeln. Levin’s best-known play, Das Kind träumt, draws on historical experiences of persecution and tells the story of a mother and her child’s flight from soldiers to the land of dead children, where the Messiah is supposed to appear. Die Kofferpacker, in contrast, is a comedy that draws the lives of several families in a flurry of short scenes between departures, returns and unfulfilled dreams, and between weddings and funerals.

Freddie Rokem is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Theater at Tel Aviv University, where he was Dean of the Faculty of the Arts (2002–2006) and held the Emanuel Herzikowitz Chair for the Arts of the 19th and 20th Centuries (2006–2016). He has been a guest professor at various universities, such as the Freie Universität Berlin, the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and the University of Chicago. The following of his books have been published in German translation: Geschichte aufführen. Darstellungen der Vergangenheit im Gegenwartstheater (2012) and TheaterDenken. Begegnungen und Konstellationen zwischen Philosophen und Theatermachern (2017). Rokem also works as a dramaturg and translator.



Antje Thoms studied applied theater studies in in Gießen and was then an assistant director at the Niedersächsisches Staatstheater Hannover. There she worked with directors including Sebastian Nübling, Luk Perceval and Jossi Wieler. Since 2003, she has worked as a freelance director and writer, and in 2007 founded the independent Zürcher Theaterformation Trainingslager with the writer Jens Nielsen and actor Dominique Müller. From 2014/15 to 2021/22, Antje Thoms was house director at the Theater Göttingen and starting in the 2022/23 season is director of drama at the Theater Regensburg.



Matthias Naumann is a writer, translator and publisher. Since 2011, he has been the director of Neofelis Verlag, Berlin, which published the series Drama Panorama – Neue internationale Theatertexte. His plays have been invited to the Autorentheatertagen and to the Heidelberger Stückemarkt, since 2014 he has mainly worked as part of the collaborative theater group Futur II Konjunktiv. He also translates plays from Hebrew.




We are very pleased to partner with Drama Panorama to host this event. Please click HERE to read the complete event information on their website.

Roman Sikora

Staged Reading and Panel Discussion

Roman Sikora is an explicitly political writer who analyses the power structures of a society dominated by market economics in his work in grotesque form. Translator Barbora Schnelle has been working with Roman Sikora for many years. This has now culminated in the publication of the anthology Frühstück mit Leviathan (Berlin: Neofelis 2021).

The playwright Roman Sikora and his translator Barbora Schnelle will present the new book Frühstück mit Leviathan and discuss with publisher Matthias Naumann (who will moderate the discussion) the path Sikora’s plays took onto German stages and the importance of translating and publishing contemporary international drama. Extracts from the plays Frühstück mit LeviathanDrei Tage oder Abstieg und Aufstieg des Herrn B. and Auf dem Weg zum Sieg from the book Roman Sikora: Frühstück mit Leviathan will also be read in a staged reading.

In the play Frühstück mit Leviathan, the guests invited to breakfast with the richest businessman in the world don’t have any scruples when it comes to getting richer themselves. The hero of his comedy Drei Tage oder Abstieg und Aufstieg des Herrn B. makes a career as a cunning banker. After an accident, he ends up on the street and, when he is robbed of every last cent, experiences the dark side of capitalism. The play Auf dem Weg zum Sieg leads us into the ranks of the k. u. k. army in the First World War and investigates the mentality of the war machine.

After completing his training, Roman Sikora worked as an electrician and mechanic at the steelworks in his hometown of Třinec, before he studied directing and dramaturgy at the Janáček Academy for Music and the Performaing Arts in Brno. Today he works as a freelance playwright and theater critic, translates from Polish (e.g. Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk) and teaches playwriting at the faculty of theater at the the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague. Sikora’s plays have been translated into many languages and performed internationally.



Barbora Schnelle works as a freelance translator, theater critic and culture manager. In 2009, with Antje Oegel, she founded the project Drama Panorama: Forum für Übersetzung und Theater. In 2014 she founded the festival of contemporary Czech theater Ein Stück: Tschechien in Berlin, which she has run and curated since then.




We are very pleased to partner with Drama Panorama to host this event. Please click HERE to read the complete event information on their website.

Lydia Stryk

The U.S. EMBASSY LITERATURE SERIES – Lydia Stryk reads from her new novel The Teachers´ Room.

A novice fifth-grade teacher embarks on a clandestine love affair with another teacher, which sets her on the tumultuous path of self-discovery.

It is 1963, one of the most turbulent years in American history. The escalating tensions and conflicts in society at large are playing out in classrooms, principals’ offices, and school boards across the country, along with the first stirrings of social transformation, though the past still holds its suffocating grip. And behind the closed door of the teachers’ room in one small Midwest town, two teachers set eyes on each other and find it hard to look away.

Karen Murphy, fresh from college, has taken on her first teaching job. Despite her best efforts, she can’t seem to stick to the subjects in her fifth-grade school books, helped along by the antics of a girl who upends all her lesson plans. She has a lot to learn, and her women colleagues are there to offer their advice, especially the enigmatic fourth-grade teacher, Esther Jonas. As Karen quickly discovers, the devoted spinster teacher with no life beyond the classroom is a myth—the school is teeming with passion and secrets, her own perilous desire for Esther Jonas included.

The Teachers’ Room offers both a panoramic view of a changing America and an intimate portrait of the hidden lives of teachers.

Award-winning playwright Lydia Stryk was born and raised in DeKalb, Illinois, birthplace of barbed wire and flying ears of corn. Her plays have been produced across the United States and also in Germany, including American Tet and Lady Lay at English Theatre Berlin. The Teachers’ Room is her first novel, a process she describes in her essay, “A Playwright Crosses the Border Into Fiction”.

Photograph: Jo. van Norden

Multilingualism in Theater

Panel Discussion and Staged Readings

Confini by Ian De Toffoli. Premiere: July 3, 2021, Campania Teatro Festival, Naples, Directed by Davide Sacco. © Donato Aquaro

There are currently a noticeably large number of authors who write multilingual plays and receive recognition for it. For example, Sivan Ben Yishai’s multilingual play Wounds Are Forever (Selbstportrait als Nationaldichterin) won the most important prize for contemporary drama in German, the Mülheim Drama Prize, in 2022. But what path do multilingual texts take in a theater culture traditionally focused on German as the dominant written and literary language? Can multilingual writing change the theatrical and literary canon? What does the increasing collaboration of translators on original multilingual texts mean for the notion of a “German-language theater”? How does the concept of multilingualism relate to the concept of diversity?

In our panel discussion, we will talk with the playwrights, translators and theater makers Elise Wilk, Ian De Toffoli and Thomas Perle about the significance of multilingual theater texts in contemporary theater. Together, we will take a look to the future, asking what new forms of writing for theater might emerge from a multilingual production and performance practice and, conversely, how multilingual plays, not written for a particular production in a particular venue, anticipate a transformation of theater yet to come. We consider what role translators will play in multilingual theater practice and writing and discuss the possibility of a translatory turn in theater studies. We will ask about the significance of multilingual drama in countries such as Luxembourg and Romania. Together, we will draw a differentiated picture of multilingual writing for the stage as a political strategy and aesthetic process.

The discussion will alternate with short staged readings of new multilingual plays. In this way, we will demonstrate the potential multilingual writing is already unlocking now and how it can develop in future.

We are very pleased to partner with Drama Panorama to host this event. Please click HERE to read the complete event information on their website.

Millennial Surrealism

The U.S. EMBASSY LITERATURE SERIES – Millennial Surrealism: Hilary Leichter in conversation with Teresa Bücker

Hilary Leichter is the current Picador Guest Professor for Literature at the University of Leipzig. She is the author of the novel Temporary which casts a hilarious and tender eye toward the struggle for happiness under late capitalism. The German translation Die Hauptsache was published by Arche Verlag in 2021. Her next novel, Terrace Story, will be published in the summer of 2023 by Ecco.

Teresa Bücker works as a freelance journalist, moderator and consultant. At conferences, in magazines, on television and in workshops, she regularly discusses the changing world of work, justice, power, sexual empowerment and digital strategies for journalism. On October 19, 2022, her first nonfiction book Alle_ Zeit. Eine Frage von Macht und Freiheit will be published by Ullstein Verlag.

On September 12, Hilary Leichter will read from her debut novel Temporary and talk with Teresa Bücker about capitalism and the impact on our lives, temporary work, feminism, power, freedom, literature and the Picador Guest Professorship.



Parataxe – International Literature

What languages does Berlin write in? In varying locations, PARATAXE regularly invites Berlin authors, who pen their work in languages other than German, to take part in conversations, readings and new translations.

With Aboud Saeed (& his translator Sandra Hetzl) and Avrina Prabala-Joslin!

An evening in German, English and Arabic – with translations. Hosted by Martin Jankowski (Berliner Literarische Aktion).

Aboud Saeed was born in 1983 in a small town near Aleppo, Syria where he worked in a blacksmith’s workshop for 15 years. Then he became an active blogger on Facebook. After his first book, Der klügste Mensch im Facebook mit Statusmeldungen, was published in German translation in 2013, he came to Germany as a Syrian author. He continued writing in Berlin, between asylum and alienation, and his life-sized news ticker, about childhood and youth in Syria, was published. He returned to his first profession as a metalworker in Olafur Eliasson’s studio. His new book Die ganze Geschichte has recently been published.

Sandra Hetzl was born in Munich in 1980 and lives in Beirut. She studied Visual Culture Studies at the Berlin University of the Arts. She works as a literary translator from Arabic and makes video installations. In addition, she is the brain behind 10/11. A laboratory and, simultaneously, a mouthpiece for experimental forms of Arabic literature, 10/11 is based in Beirut and Berlin. The collective consists of writers, translators and international publishing professionals. 10/11 makes texts (often snatched from the depths of the WWW) by young writers working in Arabic accessible to the international publishing market and strives to nurture dynamic exchange.

Avrina Prabala-Joslin writes fiction and poetry on the fluidity of things, place, space and time. She is obsessed with memories, of childhood – they pervade and evade, an ebb and flow characteristic of her desire for the sea. Currently, she is a doctoral researcher at the University of Göttingen and is working on theorizing feminist digital memory. She has an MA in writing from the University of Warwick and has published on a few platforms such as Elsewhere Lit, Bird’s Thumb and Coldnoon. Apart from performing at spoken word events, she posts snippets of poetry on Instagram (@avrinajoslin). Her short story “The Plumage” was shortlisted for the 2019 Berlin Writing Prize. Avrina Prabala-Joslin is currently compiling a collection of feminist short fiction. After having lived in many cities in India, England, Italy and Romania, she recently found home in Berlin.

PARATAXE is a project of the Berliner Literarische Aktion e.V. and is supported by Berlin’s Senate Department for Culture and Europe. Further information can be found at