About “Irregular Readings”:
“Irregular Readings” is a literary initiative, created by NYU Center for the Humanities; Stanford University’s Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages; and Deutsches Haus at NYU, which showcases moderated conversations and readings to introduce English-speaking audiences to contemporary German-language literature and the authors who are creating this diverse and vibrant body of work. The series takes place (as you might expect from the title) on an irregular basis and, for the time being, via live Zoom sessions.
About The Pine Islands:
Gilbert Silvester, eminent scholar of beard fashions in film, wakes up one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him. Certain the dream is a message, and unable to even look at her, he flees - immediately, irrationally, inexplicably - for Japan. In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Keen to cure his malaise, he decides to find solace in nature the way Basho did. Suddenly, from Gilbert's directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima. Although, of course, unlike the great poet, he will take a train. Along the way he falls into step with another pilgrim: Yosa, a young Japanese student clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide. Together, Gilbert and Yosa travel across Basho's disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other a new beginning. Serene, playful, and profound, The Pine Islands is a story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.
About the speakers:
Marion Poschmann is the author of four novels, the last three of which have all been nominated for the German Book Prize. She won the prestigious Wilhelm Raabe Literature Prize in 2013, the first German Prize for Nature Writing 2017, and the 2018 Berlin Literature Prize for her prose. The Pine Islands is her first novel to be translated into English. She is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature and the German PEN Center.
Jen Calleja is a British-Maltese writer and translator. Her most recent books are I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time for (Prototype, 2020) and Goblins (Rough Trade Books, 2020). She has translated German-language writers including Marion Poschmann, Wim Wenders, Raphaela Edelbauer, Helene Bukowski and Gregor Hens. She was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019 and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2018, and was the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library. Jen is co-publisher at Praspar Press, which publishes contemporary Maltese literature in English and English translation.
Ulrich Baer (moderator) is University Professor at New York University where he teaches literature and photography. His books include Remnants of Song: The Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan; Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma; The Rilke Alphabet; What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Equality and Truth in the University, and, as editor and translator, The Dark Interval: Rilke’s Letters on Loss, Grief and Transformation; the German edition of Rainer Maria Rilke's Prose, and, with Amir Eshel, Hannah Arendt zwischen den Disziplinen. He hosts the ideas podcast, Think About It, and has published editions of numerous classic books with Warbler Press.
Amir Eshel (moderator) is Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies and Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His research focuses on contemporary literature and the arts as they touch on memory, history, politics, and ethics. He is the author of Zeit der Zäsur: Jüdische Lyriker im Angesicht der Shoah (1999); Das Ungesagte Schreiben: Israelische Prosa und das Problem der Palästinensischen Flucht und Vertreibung (2006); Futurity: Contemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past (2013); and Poetic Thinking Today (Stanford University Press, 2019; Suhrkamp Verlag (in German), 2020.) Amir Eshel is a recipient of fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt and the Friedrich Ebert foundations and received the Award for Distinguished Teaching from the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University.
"Irregular Readings" is jointly organized by Ulrich Baer (University Professor, Director, Center for the Humanities, NYU); Juliane Camfield (Director, Deutsches Haus at NYU); and Amir Eshel (Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies, German Studies and Comparative Literature, Stanford University). Thanks for her invaluable support goes to Sarah Girner (Deutsches Haus at NYU).
Please click here to register. Registration is (as always) free and open to the general public. Only registered attendees will receive Zoom webinar information via email prior to the event. You can download Zoom here.
"Irregular Readings: Marion Poschmann's 'The Pine Islands'" is funded by the DAAD from funds of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).