Each year Literaturlenz brings together the Goethe-Institut Chicago, the Consulate General of Switzerland in Chicago, and the Consulate General of Austria in Chicago for an evening of readings in German. Each author represents a unique voice in contemporary German-language literature. In 2012 we welcome Larissa Boehning from Germany, Monica Cantieni from Switzerland, and Linda Stift of Austria. The readings are followed by a discussion in English moderated by Susan Harris, editorial director of Words Without Borders.
German author Larissa Boehning, born in 1971, grew up in Hamburg and has lived in Spain and Berlin. She works as a graphic designer, lecturer, and freelance writer. She was awarded the Literaturpreis Prenzlauer Berg (2002) for the story "Schwalbensommer" from a previous collection. Her debut novel Lichte Stoffe was longlisted for the German Book Prize in 2007 and earned her the Kulturpreis der Stadt Pinneberg and Mara Cassens Prize for the best debut novel of the year.
She will read from the novel Das Glück der Zikaden (The Song of the Cicadas). In the book, Nadja and Anton are forced to leave their Russian home in the late 1930s due to hostility towards German-Russian families such as theirs. Nadja hides her Russian identity during the war, but after her death their daughter Senta finds a picture of Stalin hidden in the piano. Born in Germany, Senta, despite the large family she creates with Michael, cannot forget Gregor, the father of her first child, who left her for socialist East Germany. Katarina, daughter of Senta and Gregor, finds out about her biological father only after Michael’s death. She sets out in search of Gregor, but underway becomes waylaid by a con man who is after her inheritance. Larissa Boehning’s novel is a tale of escape and exile, ideological hopes and failed reconciliations.
Monica Cantieni was born in 1965 in Thalwil, Switzerland, and now lives in Wettingen and Vienna. She works for the Swiss Radio and Television Station SRF and has published the novella Hieronymus' Kinder as well as short stories for different magazines and anthologies. For her texts she was awarded several prizes. In 2011, her novel Grünschnabel was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize.
Linda Stift was born in Wagna/southern Styria in 1969. She studied German and Slavic studies and philosophy. In 1998, she began to work as a freelance editor for fiction books and magazine publishers. In 1999, she was, together with Martina Schmidt, the coeditor of the anthology Weihnachten für Fortgeschrittene (Christmas for Experts). Her debut novel, Kingpeng (2005), was very well received and followed by the novel Stierhunger (Bullhunger, 2007) and the novel Kein einziger Tag (Not a Single Day, 2011) published by Deuticke. She now lives as a freelance writer in Vienna. In 2009 she was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Twice she was awarded the State Grant of BM:UKK and won the Gesswein Prize in 2007.
Susan Harris is the editorial director of Words Without Borders. With Ilya Kaminsky, she coedited The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry.
Recorded Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at Goethe-Institut Chicago.