Yassin Al-Haj Saleh and Susan Neiman: Hannah Arendt in Syria

For two generations, Syria has been ruled and destroyed by one single family. As a result, the past does not pass and the future cannot begin. Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, one of his country’s most important intellectuals, has been struggling for years to describe experiences in which life and death are indistinguishable. And he enters into a dialogue with texts by Hannah Arendt and compares them with the present.

Susan Neiman is a philosopher and director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam. Her widely discussed essay »Left is Not Woke« has just been published in German translation by Hanser Berlin. Yassin el Haj Saleh is a publicist whose essay »Darstellung des Schrecklichen. Versuch über das zerstörte Syrien« will soon be published by Matthes & Seitz. Some time ago a very readable portrait of him appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The panel will be hosted by Eva Menasse, Spokesperson of PEN Berlin. In cooperation with Literaturhaus Berlin. Talk in English.

Tuesday, Oktober 10 |  7:00 p.m.
Literaturhaus Berlin | Fasanenstr. 23

PEN Berlin at the International Literature Festival Berlin

Three events mark our new cooperation with the International Literature Festival Berlin. The topics: Iran, Kurdistan, Nigeria. Words and melodies by:: Säye Skye, Daniela Sepehri, Aidin Halimi, Yalda Yazdani, Kimia Bani, Jayrôme C. Robinet, Bachtyar Ali, Meral Şimşek, Yavuz Ekinci, Ronya Othmann, Sefi Atta, Lola Shoneyin, Jordan Ifueko, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Stefanie Hirsbrunner. In detail:

How Female Writers Shape Utopias in Nigeria


Despite the difficult situation in Nigeria, there is a strong women’s movement, especially in the fields of art and literature. Young women stand on the shoulders of pioneers and write courageously about mechanisms of oppression and patriarchal structures, designing social, postcolonial utopias. Their voices are visionary, humorous, and powerful. The panel highlights the current situation and hopes for a free society in Nigeria.

With: Sefi Atta, Lola Shoneyin, Jordan Ifueko, Lesley Nneka Arimah
Host: Stefanie Hirsbrunner

Friday, September 12 | 9:00 p.m.
Haus der Berliner Festspiele | Schaperstraße 24


Kurdistan: Literature in the Shadow of Despotism


Dictators continue to sit firmly on their thrones. They have brutally crushed the protest and democracy movements of recent years, tightening the repressive screws. Assad is still there, the Mullahs are still there, Erdoğan got himself re-elected. Saddam is gone, but Islamists, militia leaders and corrupt politicians have taken his place. What went wrong? Is there any hope left? And what place does literature have in all of this? The panel approaches these questions from a transnational perspective.

With: Bachtyar Ali, Yavuz Ekinci, Meral Şimşek
Host: Ronya Othmann

Friday, September | 9:00 p.m.
Collegium Hungaricum Berlin | Dorotheenstr. 12


loud & quiet: German-Iranian Poets

Three slam poets perform their own works and the texts of imprisoned Iranian writers. Since last fall, Iranians have been protesting all over the country. More than 200 people were executed in the first months of this year alone, and tens of thousands were imprisoned. But they are speaking out through letters and poems from prison. Trough spoken word accompanied by daf and tar music, aspects of pain, longing, hope, and resistance are expressed.

With: Säye Skye, Daniela Sepehri, Aidin Halimi, Yalda Yazdani, Kimia Bani
Host: Jayrôme C. Robinet

September 7, | 9:00 p.m. | Staatsbibliothek | Unter den Linden 8


 Funnier together: Public Viewing Bachmann Prize

At the suggestion of Tomer Gardi, Bachmann Prize winner of hearts, we invite you to a public viewing in Kreuzberg for this year’s Bachmann Prize.

Restaurant »Tenur«
Reichenberger Str. 147, Berlin-Kreuzberg
June 29 to July 2 | Daily from  10:00 a.m.


Hamburg or Berlin, we focus on Italy

Streets are named after fascists, representatives of the cultural establishment are replaced by neo-fascists, critical journalists are intimidated, pro-government media run campaigns against minorities. Italy under Giorgia Meloni – is that still democracy?

With: Francesca Melandri, Laura Garavini, Giovanni di Lorenzo
Host: Birgit Schönau

Monday | June 12 | 7:00 p.m.
Lichthof der Staatsbibliothek Hamburg | Von-Melle-Park 3



Angry Young Men: New Year’s Eve Riots

At the turn of the year 2022/23, there is a riot in Berlin, young men go on the rampage several nights in a row. Where does the violence come from? And where do the same journalistic reflexes always come from? Author Sineb El Masrar, law and Islam scholar Nahed Samour and educationalist Ahmet Toprak will discuss this. The journalist Daniel-Dylan Böhmer will moderate. MORE.

Monday, May 22 | 8:00 p.m.
Volksbühne, Roter Salon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin


Türkiye, what’s up?

Ebru Taşdemir in conversation with author and journalist Irfan Aktan (Ankara) and Deniz Yücel (PEN Berlin) about the upcoming elections in Turkey and the historic opportunity to vote out an authoritarian regime. An event organized by PEN Berlin with the collegial support of the Gorki Theater.

Friday, April 28 | 8:30 p.m.
Studio Я im Gorki-Theater

Hinter dem Gießhaus 2, Berlin-Mitte


PEN Berlin at the Leipzig Book Fair ’23

Poetry for many, poetry for few,
poetry for tough ones, poetry for you

Thursday, April 27 | 1:00 p.m.
Hall 2, Booth B 401 (Booth of the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, BKM)

Poetry, the densest of all literary forms, in opressed societies often serves as a popular voice of criticism against the regime. Yet, its often elaborate, ambiguous, not easily decipherable language may trigger a feeling of inferiority in some readers. Despite the dreamy harmlessness attributed to it poetry can be per- ceived as a provocation and indeed even a threat, as shown in the heated media debate on the contribu- tions to this year’s Peter Huchel Prize or the CIA’s decision to keep the poems of ex-Guantanamo prison- ers under lock and key.

With: Sebastian Köthe, Lea Schneider and Miryam Schellbach
Moderation: Alexandru Bulucz; Opening: Claudia Roth

What is solidarity?
Thursday, April 27 | 4:00 p.m.
Hall 2, Booth C 600 (Sachbuch Forum / Forum Non-Fiction)

Literature is a free space for people all over the world – that’s why it is always fought against in the hard- est way. Violence against writers takes many forms. Authors are persecuted for their texts, thrown into prison, tortured, driven into exile; their books are banned. What can concrete solidarity look like? And how far does our solidarity extend when the opinions and attitudes of the persecuted colleagues do not coincide with our own? Against which kinds of distress do we defend each other?

With: Sandra Hetzl, Eva Menasse and Deniz Yücel

Russia talk: Literature, Putinism and Resistance
Sunday, April 30 | 12:30 p.m.
Hall 4, Booth E 101 (Forum Open Society)

How are Russian authors doing these days, what moves them, and what divides them? What does the col- lective experience of dictatorship do to their work and life? How can resistance to the regime look like, is literature a possible answer to the silencing of critical media? What is sharper, the word or the sword?

With: Maria Stepanowa (this year’s winner of the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair), Alexander Estis and Mikhail Shishkin
Moderation: Julya Rabinowich

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