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Ladee Hubbard

U.S. EMBASSY LITERATURE SERIES – A Reading from The Rib King with Ladee Hubbard, Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow in Fiction, American Academy in Berlin, Fall 2021

Moderated by Anne Potjans, Department of English and American Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

For fifteen years August Sitwell has worked for the Barclays, a well-to-do white family who plucked him from an orphan asylum and gave him a job. The groundskeeper is part of the household’s all-black staff, along with “Miss Mamie,” the talented cook, pretty new maid Jennie Williams, and three young kitchen apprentices—the latest orphan boys Mr. Barclay has taken in to “civilize” boys like August.

But the Barclays fortunes have fallen, and their money is almost gone. When a prospective business associate proposes selling Miss Mamie’s delicious rib sauce to local markets under the brand name “The Rib King”—using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label—Mr. Barclay, desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see a dime. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy.

Ladee Hubbard is an award-winning New Orleans-based writer of literary fiction and the author of The Talented Ribkins (Melville House, 2017), which received the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and Hurston-Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Hubbard completed her BA at Princeton University, MFA in dramatic writing at New York University, PhD in World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles, and MFA in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught in the Africana and African Diaspora Studies department at Tulane University. Recent and forthcoming publications include the novel The Rib King (Amistad/Harper Collins, 2021) and short-story collection The Blinking What (Amistad/Harper Collins, 2022). Hubbard’s writing has appeared in Guernica, The Times Literary Supplement, Arkansas International, Copper Nickel, and Callaloo, among others. Her work has been supported by the Camargo Foundation, Djerassi Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, Sewanee Writers Conference, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom award for the short-story category.


Adam Sachs

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

A Reading from The Organs of Sense

Adam Ehrlich Sachs, writer and fellow, American Academy in Berlin 2019

In 1666, an astronomer makes a prediction shared by no one else in the world: at the stroke of noon on June 30 of that year, a solar eclipse will cast all of Europe into total darkness for four seconds. This astronomer is rumored to be using the longest telescope ever built, but he is also known to be blind―and not only blind, but incapable of sight, both his eyes having been plucked out some time before under mysterious circumstances. Is he mad? Or does he, despite this impairment, have an insight denied the other scholars of his day?

These questions intrigue the young Gottfried Leibniz―not yet the world-renowned polymath who would go on to discover calculus, but a nineteen-year-old whose faith in reason is shaky at best. Leibniz sets off to investigate the astronomer’s claim, and over the three hours remaining before the eclipse occurs―or fails to occur―the astronomer tells the scholar the haunting and hilarious story behind his strange prediction: a tale that ends up encompassing kings and princes, family squabbles, obsessive pursuits, insanity, philosophy, art, loss, and the horrors of war.

Adam Ehrlich Sachs lives and works in Pittsburgh. He has an AB in atmospheric science and an MA in the history of science from Harvard University. The author of two books of fiction, Sachs’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, n+1, and Harper’s, among other publications. His first book, Inherited Disorders: Stories, Parables, and Problems (Regan Arts, 2016), was a finalist for the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. His story “The Philosophers” was named a Distinguished Story in The Best American Short Stories 2017. In 2018, Sachs received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in literature. His novel The Organs of Sense was published in May 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Peter Wortsman

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

A Reading from Stimme und Atem. Out of Breath, Out of Mind

Peter Wortsman, writer, translator and alumnus, American Academy in Berlin

Moderated by Andrew Gross, Professor of American Studies, Universität Göttingen

“To have reached at age 66, after years of considerable creative effort in English, the beginner’s level in another language is in my view no small feat, something on the order of digging a hole so deep into New York granite that you come crawling back up in China, filthy but still breathing. If as an adult I stutter and stumble with the shaky spoon of my tongue back into the still fluid forecourt of consciousness that German constitutes for me, I do so in full consciousness as an English speaker reminded of other syllables that say more to me about the unspeakable than yes and no.” So writes the New York-born author, son of Austrian-Jewish émigrés, in the foreword. “I harbor a stillborn scribe of the German tongue in me,” he maintains. In this collection of stories, some quasi-autobiographical, some nightmarish, most of them originally written in German and thereafter translated, or rather, adapted by the author himself into English, Wortsman creates a compelling, albeit disturbing, portrait, not only of himself, but also of our shattered age. Despite all, with his writing, Wortsman harbors a hope: “Perhaps we Germans and Jews of the Post-War generation, as children of a shattered cultural union, can still achieve something productive together, perhaps we can pick a few rags of reason from the ruins of the past and therewith pitch a tent big enough to hold all our dreams.”

Excerpted from Stimme und Atem/Out of Breath, Out of Mind (Zweisprachige Erzählungen/Two-Tongued Tales), a bilingual German-English book of stories by Peter Wortsman, forthcoming from PalmArt Press, Berlin, October 2019


Peter Wortsman is the author of novels, books of short fiction, plays, and travel memoirs. He is also a literary translator from German into English. He was a Fulbright Fellow in 1973, a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow in 1974, and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2010. His writing has been honored with the 1985 Beard’s Fund Short Story Award, the 2008 Gertje Potash-Suhr Prosapreis of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German, the 2012 Gold Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year in the Solas Awards Competition, and a 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY). His travel reflections were selected five years in a row, 2008-2012, and again in 2016, for inclusion in The Best Travel Writing. His short fiction and essays have appeared, in German translation, in Manuskripte, Schreibheft, Cicero, the anthology AmLit: Neue Literatur aus den USA, published by the Druckhaus Galrev, Berlin, and in Die Welt and Die Zeit.

Holly-Jane Rahlens

In commemoration of the Fall of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago, New York-born Berlin writer and entertainer Holly-Jane Rahlens will read bilingually from her young adult bestseller, Mauerblümchen (Rowohlt) / Wallflower (Fourth Floor Fiction).

Originally published in 2009, the novella has become a favorite read in German, history and religion/ethics class, grades 8 and up. Now, published in its original English in a new edition, English-language teachers throughout Germany can get in on the action, too.

Wallflower is four hours in the life of Molly Lenzfeld, a sixteen-year-old New Yorker in Berlin. It’s Thanksgiving Day 1989, two weeks after the fall of the Wall. Molly, the daughter of a German-Jewish mother who fled the Nazis in 1938, is off to her mother’s birth house in East Berlin. On the train to Prenzlauer Berg, wallflower Molly meets East German wildflower Mick Maier, nineteen. It’s love at first sight. For both, it’s a journey into an unknown land and a world deep below the city’s streets – a fertile terrain in which to discover each other, the absurdities of the divided city, and, of course, the wonder of love.

This is what the press has said about Wallflower/Mauerblümchen:
A slew of comic scenes embellished with a great love for detail. — Spiegel Online | Powerful and touching — Berliner Zeitung | … an absolute riot! — Aviva-Berlin | … truly hilarious! — FAZ | Have you ever read a novel that made you feel like you could see the movie version in your mind while you were reading it? That’s what I experienced when I read Wallflower.  — Susanne M. Heim »Chicken Soup For the Soul« | A time machine into the past — Deutsche Presse Agentur  | A real eye-opener — Politiken
And this is what German teachers have said about Mauerblümchen:
Eine tolle Geschichte, sehr lebendig erzählt, sehr witzig, kurzweilig. Ein Buch für alle, nicht nur für Mädchen. Ein Buch aber auch für Erwachsene und für die Schulbibliothek. Dort kann es getrost im Register “Geschichte” stehen. – uhb Niedersachsen | Mit augenzwinkerndem Humor erzählt Rahlens von einer Jugendliebe auf den zweiten Blick, von Kettwurst und besonderer Gastfreundschaft – eben von einem Stück deutsch-deutscher Geschichte. — dk Bayern | Gerade die mit tatsächlichen Bahnhofsnamen versehene und dadurch realistisch verankerte Fahrt durch Berlin und das allmähliche Annähern der beiden Hauptcharaktere versinnbildlicht dabei die deutsch-deutsche Vergangenheit anschaulich und gestaltet Geschichte sehr lebensnah. Gerade der offene und dennoch hoffnungsvolle Schluss kann dabei womöglich auch als Allegorie der deutschen Geschichte seit der Wende gelesen werden. – StJ Sachsen-Anhalt | Es ist äußerst reizvoll, die sehr realistische Geschichte mit zu erleben. – frisch Nordrhein-Westfalen

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.

Anne Finger

ETB | IPAC, THEATER THIKWA and the american academy in berlin present A reading by ANNE FINGER

Anne Finger will be reading from an early memoir, Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth which was published in the U.S. by Seal Press. A German translation, Lebenswert, was published by Fischer Verlag in 1992.

Anne Finger liest aus einem autobiographischen Text: “Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth”, der in deutscher Übersetzung von Christine Frick-Gehrke unter dem Titel “Lebenswerteine behinderte Frau bekommt ein Kind” 1992 bei S. Fischer erschienen ist.

Anne Finger is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction.  Her most recent book is a novel, A Woman, in Bed (Cinco Puntos).  Her short story collection, Call Me Ahab retells iconic disability stories from a disabled perspective.  Her most recent memoir, Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio was published by St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Oakland, California, where she is active in the disability justice movement as well as movements for broader social change.

Anne is currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Anne Finger ist Autorin von Romanen, autobiografischen Texten und Sachbüchern; 2018 erschien ihr neuester Roman “A Woman, in Bed”. In ihrem Erzählungsband “Call Me Ahab” (2009) erzählen Behinderte – sowohl Figuren aus literarischen Texten als auch real existierende Mitmenschen – aus ihrer Perspektive. Ihr letztes Memoir “Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio” erschien 2006. Anne lebt in Oakland / Kalifornien, wo sie sowohl in der Behindertenbewegung als auch in verschiedenen Gruppierungen und Bewegungen für breitangelegte gesellschaftliche Veränderung aktiv ist.
Zur Zeit ist sie Holtzbrinck Fellow an der American Academy in Berlin.
Pic/Foto: Shoey Sindel



Parataxe – International Literature

What languages does Berlin write in? Berlin authors who pen their work in languages other than German are invited to take part in conversations, readings and new translations. On March 26th, PARATAXE presents Tomer Gardi (Israel/Berlin) and Ana Ristović (Serbia/Berlin), hosted by Martin Jankowski.

Tomer Gardi was born in the kibbutz Dan in Galiläa in 1974. When Gardi read in “broken German”, completely forgoing grammar and spelling at the Bachmannpreis event in 2016, his text and its use of hybrid-language caused vehement discussions among the jury. Following his very successful novel with the same title (Broken German), he now presents his newest book.

Ana Ristović was born 1972 in Belgrade, Serbia. She has published nine books of poetry, several of them award-winning. Her poem “Round Zero” was chosen by an international jury, curated by The Guardian, as one of the best love poems of the past 50 years.

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

Rebecca Rukeyser

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Rebecca Rukeyser reads from The Homestead – a novel in progress

From 1862 to 1986 the Homestead Act allotted 160 acres of land free of charge to any American man who could work the land for five years. The last decades of this Act populated Alaska, a state that still bears the nickname “The Last Frontier.”

Set in the early years of the 21st century, The Homestead looks into the final days of one of these Alaskan homesteads. Having lived on an unpopulated island in the Kodiak archipelago for decades, Lew and Megan Jenkins face economic strain and open their property to tourism. Their “remote lodge” aims to give vacationers a sense of the real West and the real Alaska—a pristine landscape molded by hard work. But Jenkins’ lodge is failing as a tourist destination and their marriage is dissolving.

Rebecca Rukeyser is a fiction writer, co-founder of the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, and the recipient of a 2018 “Arbeitsstipendium nichtdeutschsprachige Literatur” –  Grant for Non-German Literature, awarded by the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa. Her work has appeared in such publications as Best American NonRequired Reading, The Massachusetts Review, and ZYZZYVA. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at Heinrich Heine Universität.

Yaa Gyasi

The U.S. Embassy Literature Series

Yaa Gyasi will read from her critically acclaimed debut novel, Homegoing (Knopf, 2016), which probes the legacy of the slave trade as it impacted two sides of an Akan family. Homegoing received 2017’s American Book Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle’s John Leonard Award, and PEN’s Hemingway award for debut fiction.

Yaa Gyasi was born in Mampong, Ghana, and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She received a BA in English from Stanford University and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Gyasi’s short stories have appeared in African American Review, Guernica, Callaloo, and Granta, which designated her a Best Young American Novelist in 2017.

Parataxe – International Literature

Parataxe – Berlin’s international literature community:

What languages does Berlin write in? For the PARATAXE series, Berlin authors, who write in languages other than German, will be introduced in discussions, readings and translations. This time with Kinga Tóth (Hungary) and Elnathan John (Nigeria).

Kinga Tóth was born in Sárvár, Hungary in 1983. She is a linguist, teaches German language and literature, works as a communications specialist and is an editor at the art magazine Palócföld. Tóth describes herself as a (sound)poet and illustrator. In addition she is the songwriter and lead singer of the Tóth Kína Hegyfalu project as well as a board member of the József Attila Circle for young writers and an active member of several projects and associations. Her articles have been published in magazines and websites like Palócföld,, Pluralica, Árgus, Irodalmi Jelen and Irodalmi Szemle. Tóth is a participant in the exchange program for authors between the Akademie Schloss Solitude and young Hungarian writers in Budapest. Her publications include Zsúr (Party) (2013) and All Machine (2014). Currently she is working on her newest book The Moonlight Faces.

Elnathan John is a writer and lawyer living in spaces between in Nigeria and Germany. Mostly. His works have appeared in Hazlitt, Per Contra, Le Monde Diplomatique, FT and the Caine Prize for African Writing Anthology 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He writes weekly political satire for the Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust on Sunday (and any other publication that PAYS him). Unless you are The New Yorker, he considers it violence of unimaginable proportions to ask him to write for free. He has never won anything.
This record was almost disrupted by the Caine Prize when they accidentally allowed his story on the shortlist in 2013 and again in 2015. Of course, both times, he did not win. He has been shortlisted and longlisted for a few other prizes, but he is content with his position as a serial finalist. It is kind of like being a best man at a wedding – you get to attend the ceremony but you can get drunk, sneak off and hook up without anyone noticing because, after all, you are not the groom. In 2008, after being lied to by friends and admirers about the quality of his work, he hastily self-published an embarrassing collection of short stories which has thankfully gone out of print. He hopes to never repeat that foolish mistake. His novel Born On A Tuesday was published in Nigeria (in 2015), the UK and the US (in 2016) and in Germany (in 2017).


Candice Fox

Reads from her novel Crimson Lake.

Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s all it took to ruin Sydney Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of the brutal abduction of a 13-year-old girl, Ted is now a free man—and public enemy number one. He flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

There, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Perhaps it’s the self-isolation and murderous past that makes her so adept at tracking lost souls in the wilderness, but her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own.

Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation, a case full of deception and obsession, while secretly digging into her troubled past.

Candice Fox received Australia’s most prestigious prize for crime fiction, the NED KELLY AWARD, both in 2014 and 2015!

Sechs Minuten – mehr braucht es nicht, um das Leben von Detective Ted Conkaffey vollständig zu ruinieren. Die Anklage gegen ihn wird zwar aus Mangel an Beweisen fallengelassen, doch alle Welt glaubt zu wissen, dass einzig und allein er es gewesen ist, der Claire entführt hat. Um der gesellschaftlichen Ächtung zu entgehen, zieht sich der Ex-Cop nach Crimson Lake, eine Kleinstadt im Norden Australiens, zurück.
Dort trifft er Amanda Pharrell, die ganz genau weiß, was es heißt, Staatsfeind Nr. 1 zu sein. Vor Jahren musste sie wegen angeblichen Mordes ins Gefängnis. Nun tun sich die beiden Außenseiter zusammen und arbeiten als Privatdetektive. Ihr Fall: Ein berühmter Schriftsteller mit Doppelleben und kaputter Familie ist verschwunden, die örtliche Polizei behindert die Arbeit der beiden mit harschen Methoden. Dann platzt das Inkognito von Conkaffey, die Medien erzeugen Hysterie. Lynchstimmung macht sich breit. Während er den Fall seiner neuen Partnerin wieder aufrollt und sie versucht, ihn zu entlasten, nimmt der Fall des Schriftstellers überraschende Wendungen …

Candice Fox is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.

Bankstown born and bred, she failed to conform to military life in a brief stint as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy at age eighteen. At twenty, she turned her hand to academia, and taught high school through two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees.

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back-to-back. Her third novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the 2016 Ned Kelly and Davitt awards.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with U.S.-American crime writer, James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the U.S. and also to the top of the charts in the UK. The sequel, Fifty Fifty, will be released in August 2017. They have also co-written a prequel novella, Black & Blue, as part of the James Patterson BookShots series.

Candice Fox lives in Sydney.

Candice Fox stammt aus einer eher exzentrischen Familie, die sie zu manchen ihrer literarischen Figuren inspirierte. Nach einer nicht so braven Jugend und einem kurzen Zwischenspiel bei der Royal Australian Navy widmet sie sich jetzt der Literatur, mit akademischen Weihen und sehr unakademischen Romanen. Für den ersten und zweiten Teil ihrer Trilogie, Hades und Eden, wurde sie 2014 und 2015 mit dem Ned Kelly Award ausgezeichnet.
Pic: © Penguin Random House Australia / Suhrkamp Verlag.