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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

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

Nick Laird

Nick Laird is a lawyer, poet, novelist and critic from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

He lives in London and New York. His essays, reviews and poems have appeared in various journals in Britain and America. Nick Laird’s most recent books are the poetry collection Feel Free and the novel Modern Gods. He is on faculty at New York University, and the Seamus Heaney Professor of Poetry at Queens’ University, Belfast.

The British Council Literature Seminar “Neu NI Now” 

will feature contemporary writing from Northern Ireland 24 – 26 February 2022.

Glenn Patterson, the renowned novelist, non-fiction writer and Director at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast will chair the British Council Literature Seminar 2022. Northern Irish writers Nick Laird, Lucy Caldwell, Abby Oliveira, Michelle Gallen, Bebe Ashley and Padraig Reagan will present readings, discussions, and workshops

The seminar will consist of two public readings by Glenn Patterson and Nick Laird, a spoken word performance by Abby Oliveira , readings by Michelle Gallen and Lucy Caldwell, two panel discussions and four author-led workshops.

The seminar will offer academics, students, publishers, translators and journalists from across Europe the chance to experience some of the best of Northern Irish literature and engage with writers and their work first-hand.

Read more about the British Council Literature Seminar here.

Glenn Patterson

Renowned Norther Irish author and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre Belfast Glenn Patterson will read from (quote) “New books, older books and maybe a couple of things on which the ink has only just dried” The session will be moderated by Prof. Felix Sprang and is the opening of the British Council Literature Seminar 2022 Neu NI Now featuring contemporary writing from Northern Ireland

Glenn Patterson will read from his latest works “Where Are We Now?” and “The Last Irish Question: Will Six into Twenty-Six Ever Go?”

  The British Council Literature Seminar “Neu NI Now” 

will feature contemporary writing from Northern Ireland, 24 – 26 February 2022.

Glenn Patterson, the renowned novelist, non-fiction writer and Director at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast will chair the British Council Literature Seminar 2022. Northern Irish writers Nick Laird, Lucy Caldwell, Abby Oliveira, Michelle Gallen, Bebe Ashley and Padraig Reagan will present readings, discussions, and workshops.

The seminar will consist of two public readings by Glenn Patterson and Nick Laird, a spoken word performance by Abby Oliveira , readings by Michelle Gallen and Lucy Caldwell, two panel discussions and four author-led workshops.

The seminar will offer academics, students, publishers, translators and journalists from across Europe the chance to experience some of the best of Northern Irish literature and engage with writers and their work first-hand.

Read more about the British Council Literature Seminar here.

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