Press Review

Press Review 2016

"In a new division entitled ‘Science and the Humanitites’, the focus is on the representation of scientific discourses for a broad public. In addition to its tried-and-tested focus on literature, the festival also wants to cover the entire range of features."

Tagesspiegel, 26.07.2016 


"Current literary developments are brought here into this space, international authors can network and are brought alive for the metropolis of Berlin”

Urbanie, 01.09.2016, Josephine Macfov 


"That Aira, who has notoriously dodged interviews and public appearances, appeared twice at the International Literature Festival in Berlin and thereafter went on a reading tour, is a sensation that should not be missed."

Berliner Zeitung, 06.09.2016, Mathias Schnitzler


"The diversity of literary life in Berlin is normally in a permanent state of the exceptional. But the eleven days on which the 16th International Literature Festival Berlin takes place, both in the House of the Berliner Festspiele and on other stages, is yet another improvement in comparison to the madness of the routine. "

Ticket Berlin, 08.09.2016, Jenny Lohendahl 


"This brings into focus one of these special aspects of the Berlin Reading Festival: the wide view, which is not just directed at ‘the poet and his word', but every detail of the literary reference.

Neues Deutschland, 09.09.2016, Natalya Arensberg 


"The International Literary Festival attracted a lot of international attention: writers from all over the world talked about feminism, terror and taboos."

 Der Tagesspiegel, 13.09.2016, Annika Glunz 


"Dear readers, the Berlin Literary Festival offers as always a program so full that it would be enough for the rest of the year."

Berliner Zeitung, 12.09.2016, Sabine Vogel 


"The good life is out there in the festival tent, with swing music, wine and friendly, relaxed people who are looking forward to the rich programme of the next ten days."

Der Tagesspiegel, 09.09.2016, Rüdiger Schaper 


"From the very beginning, the Berlin International Literatur Festival Berlin (ilb) has nurtured this moment and turned an author tent into a trademark which not only invited guests are let into.”

Die Tageszeitung (taz), 09.09.2016, Timo Berger 

Press Review 2015

“But that’s what is so great and pleasant about this festival: here everything is constantly in progress, just like everything else, the world in general, the literary in particular.”

Der Tagesspiegel, 11.09.2015, Gerrit Bartels

“The Berlin Literature Festival derailed – and delighted”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.09.2015, Andreas Kilb

“The fact remains that the Berlin Literature Festival that has its international aspiration, its self-willed selection of famous (this time such as Wole Soyinka, Roddy Doyle, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zeruya Shalev and Michael Cunningham) and completely unknown guests, its magnificent children’s and young adults’ literature and its many subsections (this year about the future of cities and the climate change) needs to let itself be compared with competitive events such as the that generates its own budget with a little less aspiration and more marketing.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.09.2015, Andreas Kilb


“The financial network on which Ulrich Schreiber and his employees build their program is each time so tense that it almost breaks. However, it always holds. Managing a festival can also be art; or at least a feat.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.09.2015, Andreas Kilb


“And Ulrich Schreiber, he is phenomenal. Within few years, he has turned his literature festival into a giant fairground for the most famous authors from all over the world. It has become a huge event in which its participants often deal with pressing issues of the time in a brilliant and entertaining manner. It has also become a cultural and political event that is praised and supported from the highest levels. It seems that the man was everywhere at the same time. How is that possible?”

neues deutschland berlin, 11.09.2015, Martin Hatzius


“The International Literature Festival (ilb) usually brings Literatures of the World to Berlin but this time there are also young adults who read German books somewhere else in the world. […] Literature can overcome all kinds of borders.”

Berliner Zeitung, 14.09.2015, Cornelia Geissler


“During the last 15 years, the ilb has become one of the most important literary festivals worldwide. This year, 218 authors from 51 countries participate in 244 events.”

Taz, 14.09.2015, Thomas Hummitzsch


“It [an event on the situation of the Islamic State] had nothing to do with literature but it seems to be part of the aspiration of the festival to participate in all discourses. The reception of the audience shows that it seems to be the right approach.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 16.09.2015, Tobias Lehmkuhl


“I wish all readings would be like this one: a smart moderator, who discreetly leaves out the private life of the author, comments on the text and describes its beauty, makes in a comprehensible manner clear why it’s part of the wonderful, self-willed book. Anyone who participated in the literature festival on Wednesday evening could be so lucky to attend such a reading. I have to admit that it was my first time so that I am only acquainted with this ideal form of a literary event since the evening two days ago.”

Berliner Zeitung, 17.09.2015, Philipp Idel über die Veranstaltung mit Frank Witzel.


Press Review 2013

“There is an open stage for children’s and young adults’ literature from all over the world. From the beginning, a separate section equal to the adult program has presented outstanding children’s and young adults’ books. The festival has freed itself from the pressure of presenting only novelties. […] The visitors are encouraged to participate in scenic readings, a workshop to play with the language and poetry slams.”

Eselsohr ­– Fachzeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, Kathrin Köller, August 2013

“The festival gets its special image from the diversity of cultures.”

Wirtschaftswoche, 19.08.2013

“150 authors and 180 events, it is sophisticated and interesting.”

Cosmopolitan, 23.08.2013

“The audience is allowed to ask questions. That is how it is supposed to be at a festival. The audience consists neither of polite adults who cautiously ask for more details nor of little children who want to know if the woman on the stage always wanted to become an author.”

Berliner Zeitung, Cornelia Geissler, 04.09.2013

“The capital needs a literary event that matches its perceived size. It is exactly that kind of an event that Ulrich Schreiber launched thirteen years ago.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Andreas Kilb, 06.09.2013

“An exhibiton at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele shows how diverse the comic scene in Berlin is.”

Berliner Zeitung, Katja Lüthge, 07.09.2013


“It is the Berlinale for books.”

Zitty, Michael Pöppl, 19/2013

“Each reading stands for itself. However, anyone who wants to see more can quickly find an endless associative space. […] The festival program that at first may seem disparate and exuberant soon turns out to be like a treasure chest.

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Elke Biesel, 10.09.2013


“The magic of J.M. Coetzee worked and no one got distracted by the fact that the lack of events of that evening only competed with its eventfulness.”

Tagesspiegel, Gregor Dotzauer, 11.09.2013


“The big hall was full but one could still have heard a needle drop. […] That is an experience that only a reading can create.”

Die Zeit, Ijoma Mangold, 12.09.2013


“The program that Ulrich Schreiber and Thomas Böhm have compiled for this year’s Berlin International Literature Festival literally bursts at all seams.”

Die Zeit, Ijoma Mangold, 12.09.2013

“At a large-scale event like the Berlin Literature Festival there is certainly an unlimited number of events such as concerts, screenings, several “poetry nights”, a “graphic novel day”, a “literary quartet of the future”, debates, manifests and discussions. However, the major event is still the encounter with a single book: with the person who wrote it, the person who translated it and the person who reads it.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Andreas Kilb, 12.09.2013

“Berlin is the capital of literature in Europe, at least until the 15th of September. That is how long the International Literature Festival continues on the river Spree. During its 13 years of existence, the festival has developed into one of the most important meeting points for authors on our continent as a part of the Berliner Festspiele.”

Arte Journal, 12.09.2013

“At the end of the evening there was smoke coming out of the ears because of all those worlds! There was so much to read. On the way out, there were many radiant people in the foyer. In the middle of the crowd, there was a girl sitting at a table, immersed in her book as if she was somewhere else far away. It became clear what a fortune the literature festival is as it sends the participants on world trips in a quiet place in West Berlin.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Hernán D. Caro, 15.09.2013


“For Salman Rushdie, 1989 was the year in which the odyssey of his life began. He published his memories of this time in his memoirs “Joseph Anton” one year ago. Now, at the Berlin International Literature Festival, Rushdie read his book and thought back to the years under the fatwa.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Katharina Teutsch, 17.09.2013

“It is not easy to say what makes the 13th International Literature Festival Berlin a good, perhaps even excellent volume. Everything was just as before, there were the stars and the unknown authors, the poetry nights and the series of topics. Yet it seemed as if the festival had matured through a common aspiration, starting with Jakob Mattner’s scenery for the readings: in the background, there were quiet moon landscapes or airy light images that were so beautiful that one had to close their eyes in order to concentrate on the readings.”

NZZ, Sieglinde Geisel, 17.09.2013


“30 000 people visited the Berlin Literature Festival. […] The British Indian author Salman Rushdie called the festival a “great gathering of authors” in the end. He said to be happy to have participated.”

Berliner Zeitung, 17.09.2013

Press Review 2012


“The provoking opening speech by Liao Yiwu, a winner of the Peace Prize, is definitely programmatic for the Literature Festival that will present 186 authors from 58 countries until the 16th of September. It is more aggressive than other reading festivals. […] Thus, Georg Seeßlen and Markus Metz will introduce the »Guide to Civil Disobedience«, Amir Hassan Cheheltan will for the first time report uncensored in “Tehran, City Without a Sky” from Iranian torture prisons, and Pilar Velasco was invited as a representative for the Spanish protest movement »Real Democracy Now«.”

Märkische Allgemeine: Eröffnungsredner Liao Yiwu, 08.09.2012

“This opening is virtually programmatic for the festival that was launched by Ulrich Schreiber in 2001 and has since then defied the borders of the conventional literary scene. In contrast to many other big literary events, the ilb also presents international authors that have no German publisher yet. Their texts are in some cases specifically translated for the festival. »We are the discovering festival«, states the program manager Thomas Böhm.”

tip, Heft 13/2012

 “Berlin is the most international of the big literary festivals in the republic. The aspiration of the festival is not only to present international literary stars – that is what Lit.Cologne, the »Leipzig reads« program during the Leipzig book fair and Erlangen Poetry Festival already do. Berlin rather has the aspiration to contribute to cultural exchange and perhaps even to international understanding.”

taz, 06.09.2012

“Also in the twelfth year of its existence, the Berlin Literature Festival follows the leading idea that it was launched with. Mainstream is somewhere else; here you can hear »stories of the clash of civilizations«, Jonathan Meese and Durs Grünbein holding a press conference about »dictatorship of the arts«, and Wladimer Kaminer and Marion Brasch reading a new translation of Bulgakov’s »The Master and Margarita« in support of Pussy Riot.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 06.09.2012

 “The dialogue represented the highlight of the two artists’ coming closer to each other which has been in progress for some time already. This friendship of the artists seemed at first quite, so to say, unlikely, but it soon turned out to be just a marketing trick pigeonholing the artists: how should the quiet, classicistic-virtuosic winner of the Georg Büchner Prize become friends with the irritating loony? It turned out just fine.

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Durs Grünbein und Jonathan Meese geben eine Pressekonferenz zur »Diktatur der Kunst«, 11.09.2012

“Only Durs Grünbein or only Jonathan Meese – for one of them alone one would not have set off to the Berlin Literature Festival. […] But both of them together – that’s another matter. Constellations intrigue the mind and promise more than one individual does.”

Die Zeit: Die Pressekonferenz zur »Diktatur der Kunst«, 13.09.2012

 “It does not feel like sitting in front of a disdainful stage but in front of a spacecraft – and experiencing in one and a half hours so much new that it strikes you like a lightning.”

taz, 12.09.2012


“Lo and behold! Graphic literature has found its niche at the brink of the honorable International Literature Festival”

Berliner Zeitung, 08.09.2012

“The talk continues at the opening of the evening in the institute Francais. Nationalities, artists and spectators mingle and turn the European Graphic Novel Day into a kind of family meeting in a relaxed manner – and Berlin into the Comic Center of Europe for one day.”

taz, 11.09.2012 


 “Despite the immersion in the depths of history, »Open City« is relevant in the restlessness of our time. That can be claimed of very few books.

Der Tagesspiegel in der Ankündigung der Lesung von Teju Cole, 12.09.2012

 “In any case, the festival is mentally, morally and artistically a giant circus, the Potsdamer Platz of literature.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14.09.2012

“The festival has lived up to its name with its novel revues: internationality as well as dedication for political discussions have always been aspirations of the festival.[…] Also the spectators approve of the program policy that consciously not only focuses on big names but also fosters young artists and non-mainstream topics. When a discussion about the »Arab spring« and a digression about the end of the eros are part of the program, both podiums can be pleased with hundreds of spectators. […] Such links between politics and literature, old and new, entertainment and devotion feature the festival. What a lovely marathon in the Olympic year.”

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 15.09.2012

“When you see groups of pupils flocking to the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, it is obvious: the Berlin International Literature Festival has begun. During this September in the 12th round of the festival, the section for international children’s and young adults’ literature has expanded a great deal. 27 authors and illustrators from all over the world participated in the festival: there were authors who are renowned in the literary scene for children’s and young adults’ literature but also some who still need to be discovered in this part of the world.”

Eselsohr, Ausgabe 11/2012

“Because of his job, it is not often that Martin Wiesmann attends a literature festival. Wiesmann is the head of the investment-banking department of the American bank JP Morgan in Germany and Austria. That is where the fine arts easily fade into the background. The reason for his participation at the Berlin International Literature Festival is the emphasis on the state of Europe at this year’s festival – and, now, it seems like not only philosophers, authors and historians but also investment-bankers with an overview should comment on the topic.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18.9.2012

“But, especially the moments between the single events – and that is almost as important for the character of a festival as is the interestingness of the discussions and the brilliance of the readings – were often great fun: standing and strolling around, building groups. Anyone who stepped into the garden of the Haus der Festspiele could sense the great literary atmosphere. Already the internationality of the program provides an interesting babel of languages. In contrast to Lit.Cologne for example, the ilb is still a very approachable festival despite some essential measures of professionalization.[…] It is a kind of a worldwide school reunion of authors where you can see yourself to be not merely a spectator but rather a participant, at least in this garden.

taz, 17.09.2012

 “Perhaps this evening, during which Herta Müller, being more relaxed and cheerful than usually, read her poems, did not turn the spectator into another person but at least into a happier one.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung über Herta Müller, 14.09.2012


Press Review 2011


"The International Literature Festival Berlin will present its 11th edition, and it will - let's face it - once again ask too much from its audience. Which is good! Hundreds of readings of well and lesser known writers […] invite the guests of the festival to digest more literature within two weeks as they would normally within three years."

sally*scout: Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin, 30.08.2011


"This weekend, the medium that has often been labelled a bastard, because it combines literature and visual arts, will enter another hall of advanced civilization. Next Saturday the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb) will dedicate a whole day […] to the Graphic Novel […]."

Der Tagesspiegel: Ball der Bastarde, Lars von Törne, 07.09.2011


"It is a fine anniversary, when one of Berlin's top events celebrates its 11th edition. Once again for ten days the International Literature Festival Berlin will represent diversity and distinction […] in 196 events with 140 writers from 53 countries. And those who believe that literature is nothing but paper between two covers will be proven wrong. In addition to your typical reading, the programme offers writers' talks, political debates, and film screenings. The ilb has always been an offer to people who enjoy staying home, wrapped in a cosy blanket to read a good book. But it is also an invitation to the newbies, who want to rediscover the pleasure of reading. Which will happen, for example, also at extraordinary venues, e.g. the Tegel Detention Centre or the Berghain Panorama Bar.", 07.09.2011


"Joachim Sartorius, Director of the Berliner Festspiele, called upon cultural politicians in Berlin and Germany to "finally" grant a real home and long-term funding for the Literature Festival. He underlined the power of connection that literature enshrines. "None of our festivals is as political as the International Literature Festival, because it brings together people and their languages and stories from all over the world." The festival has been hosted since 2005 by the Berliner Festspiele, and is being sponsored by the German government.", 07.09.2011


"Given its political orientation the annual late summer festival of novelists, poets and essayist cannot ignore the radical transformation in the Middle East. Having a feel for the topical, and inspired by the enormous wish to rebel against the mainstream, festival director Ulrich Schreiber invited a keynote speaker, [Tahar Ben Jelloun], who persistently and eloquently writes against opportunity thinking and the lame and sloppy Zeitgeist-infested approach. […] Tahar Ben Jelloun's praise of the realistic illusion will be followed by exquisite events that are meant to carry us back from a chilly summer into a spring of hope."

Neues Deutschland: Die Wahrheit ist rund, Natalya Arensberg, 09.09.2011


"With about 180 events for children and adults with about 140 writers from countries all over the world the International Literature Festival Berlin is still considered the biggest in Europe - in spite of the financial cuts in the last few years. Now the first of two weeks has come to an end. This time, the festival focuses on the Asian Pacific region. And the festival has never been as political as in this year.", Tobias Wenzel, 11.09.2011


"If you haven't gone on holiday this year, you get a chance to do so now: The International Literature Festival offers a literary trip around the world that will take you to metropolises full of history as well as to sleepy provincial towns […]."

Der Tagsspiegel: Papiertür zum Paradies, Elke Brühn, 13.09.2011


"It is, therefore, a good idea to not only host readings ten years after, to remember the attacks of 9/11 and the wars that followed, but to leave the stage also to those who in words and images defy the commercial constraints of pseudo journalism and its "60 second facts" in the style of Jauch and Plasberg. Because it is true: anybody can do karaoke. But karaoke is only entertainment. Information is more!"

Neues Deutschland: „Karaoke-Journalisten", Lilian-Astrid Geese, 14.09.2011


"At the International Literature Festival Berlin it is as in real life: the quantity of what you miss is more than the quantity you can experience.", Sieglinde Geisel, 16.09.2011


"These are the moments you want to experience at a festival of literature. The body of the poet has always been the projection area for his/her audience. Enthusiastic crowds wanted to see Schiller, Dickens, and Hugo […]. At the International Literature Festival Berlin the mating call of real presence worked for nine years, too. Last year, however, when the festival had to move to the House of World Cultures, because its regular venue at the Schaperstraße was closed for refurbishing, the numbers of visitors dropped. […] This is partly due to the current situation of literature. […] But there are also reasons to be found in the festival itself. It is worrying that a writer like Gary Shteyngart with his "Super Sad True Love Story" attracts only one third of number of visitors that could fill the hall. […] The festival in Berlin, unlike its successful competitors in Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, does not want to be the gofer of the literary industry. Instead it has tried, year after year, to convey an independent idea of the global community of poets. […] This is a noble venture, yet it quickly hits its limits in the sensation-seeking city of Berlin with its excessive supply with cultural events."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Groß im kleinen Kreis, Andreas Kilb, 16.09.2011


"Once again the Haus der Berliner Festspiele proved to be the ideal venue. All in all, 24,000 visitors came to see and hear writers from all over the world. Once again the International Children and Youth Literature section, managed for the first time by Christoph Peter, proved to be a crowd-puller. More than 700 enthusiastic spectators watched the Grüffelo Show hosted by Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson. Another favourite of the audience was Finn-Ole Heinrich, who presented his book Frerk, du Zwerg. […] One of the many highlights of this section was Amir's and Khalal's graphic novel Zarah's Paradise, published by the Knesebeck Verlag […]. It was a very moving moment, when Amir and Khalil joined the young people in the hall, sitting in front of their computers at 3 o'clock a.m. local time, in order to answer the questions of the German students. A true experience for everybody involved.", 19.09.2011


"The 11th International Literature Festival Berlin, with most events hosted by the Haus der Berliner Festspiele from from 7th to 17th September, offered more contemporary, political, personal and global events than almost all the other festivals in the German-speaking region. The difference between (real) life, writing, and the discourse could well be seen […].

Thus, it is extremely important and great to note that almost all writers are present in person. Because this way, a book or an (often exemplary) life, cannot simply be forced into a scheme, as might be the case in the re-enactment of a theatre production or a university thesis. And every visit of an event helps shape ideas beyond the geopolitical and mutual claims of guilt, sociological theories or, in the worst case, a kind of pathological - and sympathetic - disaster tourism. (It would be great to have such a festival in the Ruhrgebiet area!).", 20.09.2011


"Last Wednesday, the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb) offered a first insight into this year's programme. The Chinese refugee Liao Yiwu presented For a Song and a Hundred Songs. An eye-witness report about life in Chinese prisons in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.", 21.09.2011


"What is the task of a writer? How does she/he find her/his themes, her/his stories? In which language should she/he write? Can art be a compass in a very complex world, a world we find hard to understand? All these are questions to which artists and experts answered at the 11th international literature festival berlin that took place from 7th to 17th September.", 22.09.2011


Press Review 2009


"The festival, which is now in its 9th year, is an exuberant celebration of a culture of reading. It included almost three hundred events in twelve days this year, and has thereby expanded."

die tageszeitung: Das grosse Lesenlassen, Katharina Granzin, 22.09.2009

"Over ten days and nights it concentrated on the word, largely subtle and quiet […]. Even if this year's festival did not draw a record number of visitors, it was still the best in its history. […] The festival featured an enormous number of young authors, who will with certainty become world famous in the near future."

Berliner Zeitung: Weltstars von morgen, Sabine Vogel, 19./20.09.2009

"There is no Arabic world, and the literature festival in Berlin is the place at which the varying interpretations of deficits, blanks and diversity were made apparent. At the beginning Joachim Sartorius, the director of the Berliner Festspiele, spoke of culture being overwhelmed by expectations of reconciliatory aspects, and highlighted literature's primary role in bringing forth the Other. The ilb treats the matter in an equally impressive and irritating manner."

Frankfurter Rundschau: Lesarten des Mangels. Die arabische Welt auf dem Literaturfestival, Harry Nutt, 16.09.2009

"Dozens of events illuminate an impressive spectrum of Arabic literature: there are poetry nights and prose readings, film screenings and discussions. Established writers as well as young, new authors present their works, some of which are already known to larger audiences in Germany, whereas othershave not yet been translated. The festival is performing pioneer work here, inviting us to make new discoveries and enter a world of experience far beyond the televised images from Iraq and Afghanistan. […] The festival's many readings point in a clear direction: listen closely, be curious about new stories from the Orient. […] The wealth of voices and images could provide a counterpoint to the cookie-cutter stereotypes and the fear."

Kölner Stadtanzeiger: Die Verniedlichung des Orients, Elke Biesel, 16.09.2009

"The great thing about the international literature festival in Berlin is that every year you find authors in the festival programme who actually have nothing to do with the actual theme – this year the "Arabic world" - but who are present despite this, because they were simply invited or because we needed to be reminded that they are also there."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung: Das grosse Kichern. Beim Literaturfestival in Berlin gastierte die Schrifstellergruppe "Oulipo", Julia Encke, 13.09.2009

"The "international literature festival in Berlin" stays true to itself in its 9th year. This also applies to the internal directions: international, very political, and strictly literary. […] The festival thus remains a beacon which shines its occasionally harsh light by preference in geographically and mentally distant regions. […] A remarkable contribution to "the understanding of otherness", which is, in this globalised age, a key qualification – and to which literature has much to contribute."

Kölner Stadtanzeiger: Den Biss bewahrt, 11.09.2009

"The ilb has established itself as a major event in the capital city. 293 events with 220 authors from 52 countries! In its 9th year the festival remains so congenial in part because an author can list these figures as if he can hardly believe them himself."

die tageszeitung: Demokratie und Nichtverstehen, Natascha Freundel, 11.09.2009

"The 9th international literature festival in Berlin has already proved its internationality – or even its downright globality: the world-famous Indian writer Arundhati Roy opened the festival with a speech, despite the fact that this year's festival's emphasis is on Arabic literature."

Welt kompakt: Ökonomie der Provokation, Wieland Freund, 11.09.2009

"Since its inception in 2001, the Berlin International Literature Festival has been considered a prestigious literary festival and has been able to attract major literary names from around the world. This September, the festival celebrated Arabic literature through its "Focus Arab World" section. The festival hosted more than thirty Arab authors, who participated in tens of literary readings and intellectual forums which were held at the festival centre, the Berliner Festspiele, and at other main venues in Berlin. The "Focus Arab World" section was viewed as an attempt by the Berlin Festival to connect Arab authors with their colleagues worldwide. In addition, the festival itself presents a cultural space in which views and visions of major literary issues currently in circulation all over the world can be brought closer together."

Banipal (GB), Nr. 36: Berlin Festival celebrates Arabic Literature, Autumn/Winter 2009


Press Review 2008


"The Literature Festival […] wants to offer a platform to those authors who often gain little support in their own countries and are disadvantaged in favour of European and North American writers. […] However, the Literature Festival does not solely regard itself as a means for importing talent, but exporting it too. For the first time ever, in the event "New German Voices" young German authors are presented to the international literary sphere. Maybe one day they will be noticed in Africa, too."

Berliner Zeitung: Kulturkalender. Afrika im Fokus, Mounia Meiborg, 18. – 24.09.2008

"Visitors to the Festival have the unique opportunity to meet literary figures who are totally unknown in this country."

Tipp: Schriften vom schwarzen Kontinent, 18.09.2008

"The yearly event has grown quickly in importance and carved its own niche in the literary world."

The Local: Berlin gets bookish, 23.09.2008

"Established literary greats stand next to new talents. The competitive structive of the event is similar to that of the Film Festival: In several main programmes, ordered thematically, authors chosen previously by different panels read aloud. However of course there is no winner. […] At the Literature Festival it is the taking part which counts."

Die Tageszeitung: Literatur, Import and Export, 23.09.2008

"The city of Berlin will be beautiful between the 24th September and 5th October, when it is again home to the poetry and prose of the world."

Neues Deutschland: Die Stadt, schön wird sie sein, Natalya Arensberg, 24.09.2008

"The International Literature Festival Berlin […] has developed well under the roof of the Berliner Festspiele. This building offers a central venue for the almost unmanagable diversity of the programme. […] The writers, whose presence is achieved every year by literature enthusiast Ulrich Schreiber, have an impressive enthusiasm and come from all over the world, creating political interest and an increasing recognition of the power of culture. The invitation of African authors to Bellevue Castle by the Bundespräsident Horst Kohler was not solely down to protocolic gesture."

Berliner Morgenpost: Literaturfest lädt Afrika ein, Eckhard Fuhr, 24.09.2008

"The Literature Festival offers an opportunity almost two weeks long to observe how poetry and politics help each other out or try to throw each other off – no matter if you travel on the Ganges with Amitay Ghosh, to present-day Namibia with Uwe Timm, on the Brazilian Amazon with Milton Hatoum or to Beijing with the newest generation of Chinese lyricists."

Tagesspiegel: Menschen und Mächte. Das internationale Literaturfestival präsentiert 130 Autoren aus 50 Ländern, Gregor Dotzauer, 24.09.2008

"The world will become literature and then return to be the world again – you can experience this now until the 5th October at the International Literature Festival Berlin."

die tageszeitung, 30.09.2008

"The 2008 International Literature Festival presents entirely wonderful literature from Africa – talks with Amma Darko, Nuruddin Farah, Helon Habila, Alaa Al-Aswani, Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton – alongside fascinating discussions entitled "Reflections", which provide time to contemplate and rich intellectual nourishment."

Neues Deutschland: Wollt ihr es denn wissen?, Natalya Arensberg, 30.09.2008

"The Poetry festival is a Berlin institution, the Literature Festival a national event."

F.A.Z.: Das Nashorn und seine Geschichten, 02.10.2008

"Reading is an intimate affair, and this intimacy can be experienced this year at many of the performances."

NZZ: Die Fliegen und der Tartaros, Sieglinde Geisel, 06.10.2008

"Maybe it is actually due to the common identity derived from the after-effects of colonialism, but the focus of this year's Berlin Literature Festival, when compared to other years, creates clearer contours and a more distinct profile. Even on the level of political cultural discussion."

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Durch die Blume der Ironie, Hans-Peter Kunisch, 07.10.2008

"The concept of the International Literature Festival, which takes place for the eighth time this autumn, has developed over the past years into a simple formula: the programme is a melting-pot of vibrancy. There are enough prominent guests to lure the public into the events. And on the way to the festival it is found possible to wander off and discover something surprising, thanks to the incredibly internationally focused programme. […] The joy of reading is awakened, along with the interest in political and social discussions."

Zitty: Bücher als sozialer Kitt, Stephanie Grimm, 25.09. – 08.10.2008


 Press Review 2007


"Writing means listening, too – and the children's and young adult's literature programme ultimately offers its young readers simply everything. The selection reveals an unmistakable feel for quality. The ten thousand children and adolescents who attended these readings, sold out months before, with their classrooms, let themselves be effortlessly carried away. The work of Guus Kuijer, the grand old man of Dutch letters (and European) children's literature, is testament to how one cannot always decide between adult and children's literature. In his slim books he expects things from his readers that in life are demanded of children too. Yet his books are not sad, but rather immensely beautiful. One must describe the terrifying in beautiful language too, otherwise one has no access to readers, says Kuijer, who also claims that as author he does not interfere. "I listen, and then stories arrive like dreams." What takes place when one reads? We received many different answers to this question at the festival. "A good book draws you out of the crowd," says David Grossman. "Reading does not make you more intelligent. But something changes in our lives," believes Aharon Appelfeld and laughs his translucent laugh: "The soul expands a little." "Who understands the Sleeping Beauty?", asks Guus Kuijer. "I don’t. Children don't. But we all experience something."

NZZ, Sieglinde Geisel, 19.09.2007

"At the international literature festival teachers learn how to make reading enticing for children."

Berliner Zeitung, Carolin Benack, 24.09.2007

"And with over 200 events with significantly more than 200 authors from around the world, there remains, in addition, ample room for discoveries during these thirteen days -- exceptional circumstances under which the ilb floods the entire city with literary events."

tip magazine, Kai Schmidt, 22.08.2007

"This year's international literature festival is all set to out-sparkle its predecessors – in ambition, scope and geniality of choices. Besides the high-class selection of prize-winning authors from all continents, the 2007 festival has invited artists such as Willie Perdomo and Sapphire, whose work, whilst not strictly fringe, is far enough away from the mainstream to lend the festival some street cred."

ExBerliner, Eve Lucas, 09/2007

"And what the international literature festival berlin (for short, the ilb) is good for – the enormous city and its adventurous inhabitants, the (world) literature and its cosmopolitan readers – should meanwhile be considered beyond dispute."

Die Welt, Wieland Freund, 04.09.2007

"Despite alleged streamlining, the program is immense and the cornucopia of choice is virtually blind. But that precisely makes for the charm of this feast of literature. […] There is, however, a danger for the public of events being "sold out". Whoever cannot experience their idols in the flesh need not drown his or her sorrows at the festival bar – one can form the best acquaintances there. The toing and froing of convergences allows for the discovery of many unknowns. And that alone can tide one over during the forthcoming inescapable winter void."

Berliner Zeitung, Sabine Vogel, 04.09.2007

"This year's international literature festival berlin: a chaotic (some say), wonderful and lively (say others), at any rate vast and colourful series of events, which up until September 16 introduces literary stars, new discoveries and these-writers-must-be-on-stage."

die tageszeitung, Dirk Knipphals, 06.09.2007

"If there is something like a heterogeneous homogeneity, then this is that, what one comes across at the 7th international literature festival berlin, currently held at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. Or is it a homogeneous heterogeneity? In any case, it is very harmonious and multifaceted, above all the most recent one. […] What a beautiful and interesting evening at this political festival of cosmopolitanism, with cultural exchange between different grand human beings at eye level."

F.A.Z., Meike Hauck, 09.09.2007

"The individual events are carried out with care and bring uncomfortable political themes astoundingly close to a large audience."

die tageszeitung, Wiebke Porombka, 11.09.2007

"Berlin is a miracle. Visitors stream into the international literature festival for twelve evenings straight. […] The main thing to celebrate, above all, is that in the festival's seventh established year this virtually took place amidst chaos-free and professional organization."

Berliner Zeitung, Sabine Vogel, 17.09.2007

"This year's berlin literature festival offered new insights into the poetic imaginations of the globalised world. […) The berlin literature festival […] has always looked in both directions, towards good as well as popular literature. […] The core lies within encounters with those writers whose work has not had record distributions or been on the bestseller lists. Not that one doesn't wish them success in this country. Yet they write irrespectively of that, without a view of their German audience. They are like voyagers who have just arrived: they bring with them the scent of the unknown."

F.A.Z., Andreas Kilb, 17.09.2007

"Literature's hearing loss. Unknown names illuminate, known names flicker down, before the audience: The berlin literature festival suspends all rules of operation."

F.A.Z., 17.09.2007

"Schreiber is, quite simply, an enthusiast […] and his enthusiasm hasn't only transmitted itself to his team […], but has also been transformed into a productivity and professionalism which is evident throughout. That applies to the festival as a whole: the program has been significantly streamlined, and through its connection to the Berliner Festspiele the festival has also received a local concentration, alongside its contents […]. One often meets presenters who are not only dazzlingly prepared, but who interact with the invited authors with real conviction. […] The literature festival’s enthusiasm has acquired shape. It's lovely that we were invited."

die tageszeitung, Wiebke Porombka, 18.09.2007

"From prison to a cellar and then further, on to Russia and Cuba: the international literature festival berlin has circled the world."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hans-Peter Kunisch, 18.09.2007

"One can count on nearly all 150 authors for a concentration of experience and aphoristic statements about writing. Above all the section “Literatures of the World” is immune to insipid prose, for the 22 authors were chosen by 11 jurors who come from their region. The voices are unmistakable, the material breathtakingly foreign, and the names, until now, have never been heard. On Poetry Nights one can experience gentle word eruptions."

NZZ, Sieglinde Geisel, 19.09.2007


Press Review 2006


"The festival programme astonished with an overabundance that was by all means intentional."

Börsenblatt: Allendes Alter Ego, 21.09.2006

"The international literature festival has found its format. The house of the Berliner Festspiele offers precisely the combination of main and off-stages, foyer and garden that is necessary and propitious for taking a stroll through world literature. Hereby, one also comes across writers that have not yet been catapulted into bestseller lists. Even the most refined tomatoes do not ripen in a green house, but in the world's gardens."

F.A.Z.: Gereift, 18.09.2006

"The festival presents a wide gamut of authors, whose own lives represent what has become the irremovable sign of our times: they are modern nomads, neither sedentary nor without a home. The ilb has brought the world of these taletellers closer to us. In the hectic moments of the present and in the face of the dominance of the electronic media, the call to reflect, a time for books and stories, even poetry, is immeasurable and indispensable. This is the mission of the international literature festival berlin. […] That there is an audience that counters today's fast-paced trend and enjoys taking its time for lectures and author discussions has been proven through continuously very well attended events."

Neues Deutschland: Lust an der Vielfalt, 16.09.2006

"For the second time the festival is consolidated as part of the Berliner Festspiele and it has become more concise, mature and natural. It does not need exotic venues. It is a reassuring alternative to all the other event-orientated reading festivities which tear their public to aquariums or to the edge of dams. The festival has developed its own character and has grown up to the next stage. Schreiber's reading world does not present a self-centred product as is the case with most literature festivals. With Schreiber, literature is presented as a global village. In the Haus der Festspiele a meeting of different reading cultures is possible - something there is not enough of. With literature that is not found in the trendy book market scene (a good attempt at this was the portrait of contemporary Francophone literature). And the literature festival provides literary groundwork. In times of declining numbers of readers, bad Pisa results and a lack of basic literary knowledge at schools, one cannot praise what these events achieve through readings, author encounters and writers workshops in schools enough."

Die Welt: Groß denken statt klein reden, 18.09.2006

"That elating effect of a large festival is created precisely through that overload, that bombardment of so many interesting and possibly important authors one did not previously know about. [... ] In the section "Children’s and Young People's Literature", which has since the beginning been a supporting pillar of the festival, the only thing that counts is the individual encounter with the author. The school classes occupy themselves for weeks with an author's work, and the term "promotion of reading skills" is much too artificial to give meaning to what goes on here. [... ] The international literature festival Berlin has become part of the Berlin Autumn scenery."

NZZ: Eine Romanze der Kulturen, 18.09.2006

"This complex overload is, in fact, a stroke of luck. In Berlin, you can drift through the magic garden of the written word. Literature festivals present not only a challenge to the patience and receptiveness of its audiences, but also a playground for fantasy: everything that is being read is accompanied by an image. A face, a gesture, a play of features and sentences already bear a very different sound."

F.A.Z.: Aus dem Flugzeugfenster, 12.09.2006

"And finally a good, carefully selected programme and something as special as the international literature festival."

Berliner Morgenpost: Berliner Boheme vorm Balkon, 11.09.2006

"A grand, marvellous twelve-day dialogue between writers from all over the world in front of a grand audience. A great dialogue among each other and with time and again surprisingly large numbers of readers and listeners."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung: Herrliche Chaostage, 10.09.2006

"The comma is back. The distinctive, small symbol, an invitation to pause, to listen, to question, to let your thoughts follow suit; an abduction into the world of fantasy; an engagement with the hilly plains of everyday life."

Neues Deutschland: Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur, 05.09.2006

"Since its foundation six years ago, the literature festival berlin has continued to define itself as a political event, a multilingual and intercultural space for reflecting upon the unresolved conflicts of today's world. Whilst hosting fewer events, this year's festival impresses with even greater professionalism."

Stuttgarter Zeitung: Reif fürs Geld, 31.08.2006

"Barely an important name in contemporary literature is missing: Doris Lessing, Isabel Allende, Jostein Gaarder, Frank McCourt, Jorge Semprún, Margriet de Moor, Tim Parks, Feridun Zaimoglu and Clemens Meyer are all expected."

Neues Deutschland: Die großen Namen, 24.08.2006

"A Time to Meet Friends (Who Love Books)"

Neues Deutschland: Die großen Namen, 24.08.2006


Press Review 2005


"What distinguishes a festival from the continuously nourishing programmes of houses of literature is the dazzling abundance. The visitors remain between enticement and frustration because either way they will miss more than they can attend – whether they opt for the big names (Kenzaburo Oe, William Gass, Friederike Mayröcker or younger stars such as Jonathan Safran Foer) or try and look for the unknown."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung: Ecstasy für Schriftsteller. Das Internationale Literaturfestival Berlin, 17.09.2005

"A 12-day marathon of readings and talks took place between both appearances [of H.M. Enzensberger, Germany, and Ghcina Mhlophe, South Africa] and the result was through and through positive: full halls, a pleasant ambience, relaxed writers and an increased quality of moderators and translators."

Der Tagesspiegel: Zeit der Zeichen, 19.09.2005

"It will take weeks until the many poems that are still sitting behind Berlin street lamps, whispering verses into the ears of passers-by, have disappeared. The fifth international literature festival draws to a close today and many of its events brought literature to every corner of the city in the past eleven days, opening up a new topography of Berlin's history of literature."

Berliner Morgenpost: Die Welt zu Besuch in Wilmersdorf, 17.09.2005


Press Review 2004


"The concert of languages was particularly wonderful as that level of diversity of voices cannot be heard at any other event in Germany. [...] Africans, Arabs, Australians and Europeans spoke about literature with the help of many interpreters – for twelve days, Berlin was the metropolis of poetry."

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Poesie und Politik, 01.10.2004

"Hustle and bustle, richness, quality, these are the characteristics of the very young international literature festival [...]."

Le Monde: Berlin ouvert sur le monde, 08.10.2004

"The international literature festival has become one of the world's biggest literary festivals, yet it still centres on individual texts rather than commercial aspects, as the past years have shown. With this year's standard being high again, most of the visitors will probably not mind to hurry somewhat breathlessly and unsystematically through Berlin to listen to as many literary voices as possible."

Berliner Zeitung: Mehr Text, 22.09.2004


Press Review 2003


"What's great about the international literature festival is that it is true to its name in every respect. It is genuinely international. And it is a real festival. Almost like during the Berlin film festival, you are tempted to take a few days off and browse through the various sections of the programme. At this festival, you have various opportunities to enjoy yourself and also to become a little bit wiser. The latter is due to the sound interpretation of internationality here, which goes beyond publishing trends."

Zitty: Fremde Orte, 03.09.2003

"This is what paradise would look like for passionate readers. The encounter of well-known writers with ones who were only recently discovered is no doubt unique internationally."

Gießener Allgemeine: 'Ein kleines Wunder' mit aktuellen Autoren und Klassikern, 09.10.2003

"Good for Berlin: in the third year of its existence, the international literature festival has become an institution – a great event, not only in regard to the quality and the global origin of the writers but also the number of visitors."

F.A.Z.: O Basilikum des Begehrens!, 23.09.2003


Press Review 2002


"The Berlin International Literature Festival was a great success. [It] was more than that, not just another series of events but a genuine festival with a wild and merry campfire atmosphere. A lot of writers were glad to stay for several days, a lot of visitors come time and time again. [...] The public and the authors are equally delighted by Schreiber’s programme. [...] Schreiber's enthusiasm has also infected private enterprises whose involvement surpassed that of state bodies. It has been profitable for both. For two weeks literature has been the talk of the town and the many new contacts formed in this time between writers may well lead to something truly remarkable."

Die Zeit: Schreibers kühnste Pläne, 26.09.2002

"The small, concentrated and intelligently moderated meetings seemed to make the huge dimensions of the festival quite irrelevant. [...] Among the merits of the festival was its lack of simple reliance on crowd-pleasing stars of literature. The "Kaleidoscope" section gathered a collection of writers largely unknown to the German public. [...] We can look forward to the third edition with anticipation."

Die Welt: 2. internationales literaturfestival geht in Berlin zu Ende, 21.09.2002

"The dissolving of national and cultural boundaries through the medium of literature is the leitmotiv of the whole festival, perhaps even its secret agenda. It is not simply a playground for literature from all around the world, but also a sophisticated concept of world literature, to be understood as a continuous process of exchanging ideas to create new literature."

Stuttgarter Zeitung: Stimmen aus dem Morgenland, 16.09.2002


Press Review 2001


""Berlinale" now for poems too"

Bild, 29.03.2001

"Immensely poetic"

Der Spiegel, 28.05.2001

"Ulrich Schreiber [...] seems to know the ropes when it comes to the pleasures of reading. Edited by him, the "Berliner Anthologie" is most definitely a beautiful and felicitous book. We will want to read it once it appears on the market in the near future."

die tageszeitung, Jana Sittnick, 18.06.2001

"Sophiensaele, a place buzzing and shimmering with all the tongues of world literature!"

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.06.2001

"So there will be, at the end of this festival which started one week ago, once all the guests have departed and their presented texts have faded away, one thing left over: a montage of pictures of this monumental event and its protagonists."

Frankfurter Rundschau, Ursula März, 21.06.2001

"Every author, each in their own respect, is better than the other and a whole bunch of them appearing in Germany for the first time."

Der Tagesspiegel, Gregor Dotzauer, 22.06.2001

"Despite its exuberance the first international literature festival in Berlin still provides an atmosphere for concentration. [...] Three poets chat about composition, and the room is full. [...] Not a second is boring. [...] Ulrich Schreiber wants to hold the festival in the Sophiensaele again next year. One can only wish him success. As long as the opening ceremony does not last four hours again. But he already promised that."

Der Tagesspiegel, Martin Z. Schröder, 23.06.2001

"With more than 6,000 listeners at the readings and lectures, the Literature Festival Berlin has met its expectations."

Berliner Kurier, 25.06.2001

"The courage [...] to pass on an audience pleasing concept paid off. [...] This way, during the ten day festival in Berlin, one could not only become a star but also, for example, get to know the white South African Antjie Krog, Abdourahman A. Waberi from Djibouti and the Australian John Tranter. This dazzling diversity potentiates itself in the festival's "Berlin Anthology", a book through which one can take a literary stroll: Each of the 33 writers who were nominated by a jury selected three poems themselves, that, put together, result in an idiosyncratic cross-section of mankind's poetry."

NZZ, Sieglinde Geisel, 30.06.2001

"It was not the usual audience that attends literary events. It was younger, academic and did not come out of obligation."

Der Tagesspiegel, Helmut Böttiger, 27.06.2001

"The international literature festival was based on the belief in immaculate poetry as a universal language which would even have enabled the building of the tower of Babel. Verses are celebrated here as something holy which can be understood beyond all historical, social and cultural constraints."

F.A.Z.: The Building of The Tower of Babel, 18.06.2001

"During the first international literature festival berlin the city was declared a crossroads for world literature for a week. [...] When writers from Uganda or Mexico, China, India or Australia had the chance to speak, remote literary spaces proved to be familiar. Others remained foreign and undiscovered but one had heard the author's voice and hoped for the translation to be published soon."

Buch & Media: Poetry, Flagged, 29.06.2001