We had the pleasure of talking to Mr Ulrich Schreiber, director of renowned international literature festival berlin (ilb). He founded ilb almost 20 years ago and managed to establish a platform to present contemporary developments in prose, poetry, non-fiction, graphic novels, and children’s and young adult literature from all around the world. The festival brings together newcomers as well as well-known writers. ilb is strongly committed to human rights. Past guests include: Ai Weiwei, Arundhati Roy, Daniel Kehlmann, David Grossman, John Green and Yasmina Reza. The 19th international literature festival berlin will take place from 11 to 21 September 2019 in impressive locations like newly opened James-Simon-Galerie, Collegium Hungaricum and HAU1/2.
Dear Mr Schreiber, the ilb has become an established presence in the Berlin literary calendar, which has existed for almost 20 years now and is an integral part of the cityscape. Countless guests from all over the world have presented their works in Berlin. Which authors do you remember that you were particularly touched or impressed by?
Charles Simic, Nadine Gordimer, Orhan Pamuk, Arundhati Roy, Doris Lessing, Antonio Tabucchi, Judith Hermann, John M. Coetzee, Ko Un, Aharon Appelfeld, Simon Gronowski and Koenraad Tinel.
The specials at ilb 2019 couldn't be more different, with decolonizing Worlds II, About: Sex, and Automatic Writing 2.0. How do you ensure that your programme is on the cutting edge every year and appeals to viewers?
I read, listen and watch TV news, reports, literature, have a good international literary-political network, visit other festivals – so I try to keep my eyes open.
The international literature festival berlin brings people together in the world of digitalisation; where it's all about optimising writing, reading, and listening, you manage to bring people together to read a book. Where do you see the development of literature and the role of your festival?
The role of literature is, among other things, to deepen our understanding of human beings, to enrich life and to create opportunities for understanding others, including those foreign to us. It is an essential basis for our imagination. The ilb strives to create a platform for the best authors in the world and tries to stay on the cutting edge of literary and political culture.