Dear audience of the international literature festival berlin,
In 2023, we were able to welcome a valued colleague who enriched our team with his literary expertise and perspectives: Taqi Akhlaqi was awarded the 2023 Senate Fellowship Program »Weltoffenes Berlin«. The program supports artist who need or wish to leave their countries of residence to take up a professional perspective in Berlin’s art and culture scene and contribute to the city’s artistic and liberal urban landscape. In the past, Akhlaqi was the first writer of Afghan descent to be stipendiary of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2021 and guest of the ilb in 2022.
At the 2023 international literature festival berlin, Taqi Akhlaqi curated, among others, the event »Stories from Kabul – Afghan Contemporary Literature«, where the two exiled authors Homeira Qaderi and Siamak Herawi presented their works and spoke about the situation of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. In addition to Berliner Morgenpost, the largest Afghan exile news channel Afghanistan International reported on the event, which was interpreted as a beacon for the visibility of Afghan literature in Germany.
Festival director Lavinia Frey reflects on the year spent working together:
»The daily collaboration with him, the conversations about what it means to be a writer from Afghanistan, to not be able to publish freely in his language, his profound expertise in many of the festival’s production processes, not only enriched our work, but changed it.«
In August 2023, Akhlaqi’s debut novel »Kabul 1400« was published in Iran in Farsi. It is a first-hand account of the Fall of Kabul in August of 2021.
Personal farewell to the ilb audience from Taqi Akhlaqi
There is a proverb in Farsi that says one sits at the edge of the river and watches life pass by. In the year that passed like a river, with the support of the »Weltoffenes Berlin« program, I had the honor of working for the ilb and contributing to the curation of literary events on Persian literature, four on Iran and one on Afghanistan.
As a writer from Afghanistan who has also lived in Iran as an immigrant, it was very important for me to have this opportunity because in today’s turbulent world, we are able to read stories from Iran and Afghanistan and remember the brave women who are now fighting for freedom and their basic rights on the streets of Kabul and Tehran.
I am also very pleased that I was able to establish the collaboration between the ilb and Goethe-Institut in Exile: a collaboration that has great potential for growth in the years to come. Now that my fellowship is coming to an end, I am optimistic and hope that the attention to Afghanistan and Iran will somehow continue in the cultural and artistic institutions in Berlin so that the voice of the oppressed people will not be silenced.
I would like to thank everyone who has given me this opportunity, in particular the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and Weltoffenes Berlin. I would also like to thank my dear ilb friends who have supported me like family and from whom I have been able to learn.
Thank you and I wish you a successful new year.
The ilb would like to thank the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion for their support and funding, as well as the great cooperation. The team would also like to thank Taqi Akhlaqi for the enriching work with us. We look back on a valuable past with our colleague and friend. We wish him all the best for his future artistic and journalistic career and look forward to continuing our intensive exchange.