Literature Days 2020

Literature Days 2020: Migration — »Literature without a permanent residence«

Writing across borders

We would like to explore with you:

How does a change of place and/or language find reflection in the literary work of authors?
What significance do terms like »home« and »origin« have in times of spreading nationalism?
Is the concept of national literature still valid or should we not rather talk about global literature?

All events will be interpreted. 

For full programme details see below.

Photo gallery.

Hosted by

Litprom e.V.


Literaturhaus Frankfurt | Schöne Aussicht 2 | 60311 Frankfurt

Admission fees

Single entry: 8 € | reduced ticket 6 €
Combined ticket: 28 € | reduced ticket 19 €
Advance sale (combined tickets only) at
Single tickets are only available at (evening) box office.

ARTE Film Screening: Free Admission

Friday, 24.01.2020

Opening Panel and Reading

Opening and Welcoming Speech
Juergen Boos, Director of Frankfurter Buchmesse
Petra Drexler, Division Chief Federal Foreign Office
Dr. Ina Hartwig, Cultural Affairs Office Frankfurt
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Ambassador to Germany
Anita Djafari, Managing Director Litprom  

16:15 — 18:00
Opening Panel: Here, There and Somewhere in between – Literature without a permanent residence
Many writers nowadays cannot be assigned to only one place or region. Their voluntary or forced change of residence finds reflection in their work and chosen topics. Can this kind of writing be seen as the author’s personal policy, shaped by their own biography, or will it even constitute a trend since many more writers travel between worlds. 

With: Lesley Nneka Arimah GB/NIGERIA/USA
Eduardo Halfon GUATEMALA/USA
Carmen Aguirre CANADA/CHILE
Presented by Claudia Kramatschek

19:30 — 21:00
Reading and Discussion with Tomer Gardi: »Broken German«
Switching languages easily: Tomer Gardi does just that in his novels »Broken German« and »Sonst kriegen Sie Ihr Geld zurück« (translated from Hebrew by Anne Birkenhauer). Born and grown up in Israel, Tomer Gardi now lives in Berlin, where he not only learns the language of his new country but also writes in German – doing with it whatever he wants. During this evening we will get to know what that sounds like.

Presented by Ulrich Noller

Saturday, 25.01.2020

Workshop Discussions and Closing Panel

We recommend you to arrive 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the event since the number of seats is limited and we cannot guarantee you a seat for your preferred event.

11:00 — 12:30
Workshop Discussion 1: Theatre and Politics – The stage as an ideal place to arrive?
Carmen Aguirre and Pedro Kadivar have left their home countries for political reasons and later started to write theatre plays in their respective new countries. Aguirre is an actress who, as a Latina/Migrant, wrote her own plays in order to find roles which are beyond stereotypes. Similar to Aguirre, Pedro Kadivar writes and stages his own plays. Can theatre function as an ideal place for arriving elsewhere (and maybe for processing the migration experience)? 

With: Carmen Aguirre CANADA/CHILE
Presented by Ruthard Stäblein


11:00 — 12:30
Workshop Discussion 2: After the Debut Novel
Both authors have published their debut—one novel and one short story collection—and have met with much international acclaim. To what extent did the success baffle them—and how will they continue? Which experience did they have with Canada and the USA, both classical examples for countries of immigration, and are these reflected in their works?

With: Lesley Nneka Arimah GB/NIGERIA/USA
Presented by Claudia Kramatschek  

13:00 — 14:30
Workshop Discussion 3: Homeland, Mother Tongue and Returning
Two authors from highly different parts of the world write about their experience of returning to their country of birth and childhood years after fleeing—and about their feelings of alienation there. In his book ,,Petit Livre des Migrations‘‘, the Iranian Kadivar describes the reasons for the urge to cast off his mother tongue in the new country. Halfon lost his native language while growing up and studying in the USA; back in Guatemala, he worked hard to repossess it and now writes in Spanish. 

Eduardo Halfon GUATEMALA/USA
Presented by Gerrit Wustmann

13:00 — 14.30
Workshop Discussion 4: National vs. World Literature
Long ago, these two authors have made their homes in more than two cultures and confidently deal with that in their work. Yoko Tawada writes in German and Japanese. Rawi Hage lives in Canada and writes about the Lebanese civil war. In our globalised world, would it not be high time to talk exclusively about ‘Global  Literature‘? And does the concept of national literature still have any significance anyways?

With: Yoko Tawada JAPAN/GERMANY
Presented by Katharina Borchardt    

15:00 — 16:30
Workshop Discussion 5: Across the Sea -  Fleeing and Society 
In their books ,,The Boat People‘‘ and ,,Les Clandestins‘‘, the authors deal with the process of fleeing and social interaction with refugees. Due to geographical reasons, both take on very diverse perspectives but are united in their engagement with the topic. The result is a multi-faceted reading and listening experience. 

With: Sharon Bala DUBAI/CANADA
Youssouf Amine Elalamy MAROCCO
Presented by Ruthard Stäblein

15:00 — 16:30
Workshop Discussion 6: Changing and inventing Languages  
In his novel ,,Broken German’’ Tomer Gardi dares to reinvent and consciously misspell the German language, but has not given up writing his other works in Hebrew as well. Yoko Tawada has been writing in German and Japanese for many years. How does that work? Can one person really feel at home in two languages? Does anything get lost or will it always be an enriching experience? 

With: Yoko Tawada JAPAN/GERMANY
Moderation: Ulrich Noller

18:00 — 19:30
Closing Panel Discussion: Overcoming Borders – with the help of literature
Many people’s biographies cannot be clearly located anymore, neither to a single country nor to a single continent. Not to speak of the biographies of many authors. Due to this phenomenon we can witness increasingly more “Literature without a permanent residence”. While books and authors tend to overcome borders effortlessly, these same borders are drawn more strictly in the heads of many people and nationalism is growing. Is there a possibility to write against all that? And should one do it?

With: Youssouf Amine Elalamy MAROCCO
Nacha Vollenweider ARGENTINA
Presented by Fridtjof Küchemann

ARTE Film screening

and discussion with director Katja Deiß

16:30 — 17:45

Exil Deutschland — Abschied von der Türkei  (Exile Germany – Leaving Turkey)
Documentary by Can Dündar and Katja Deiß
ARTE/HR, Germany 2017, 52 min, German

Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, was found guilty of the disclosure of state secrets in May 2016 and sentenced to 10 months in prison. Dündar became a symbol of the fight for freedom of the press and democracy in Turkey. Together with the journalist Katja Deiß he produced a film about life in a foreign country, far away from home, separated from one’s family. They meet other expatriates, but also Turks who support the policy of Erdogan and consider people like Can Dündar as traitors to their own country.

Free admission!