Always Near II: “Neu-Berlin”
“Neu Berlin” (New Berlin)
Reading and talk with Olga Grjasnowa and Matthias Schwartz
Olga Grjasnowa reads from her dystopian story “Neu-Berlin” (New Berlin) and talks with literary scholar Matthias Schwartz (ZfL) – about biopolitics, how we deal with our desires and the horror of realizing them.
Always Near. The near future in contemporary literature
Every present has its own future. The genre of science fiction is known for explicitly reflecting the transformation of literary imaginations and designing principles of the future. Whereas classical science fiction prefers to tell stories of far-away worlds and times to speculatively explore the unknown future (and the status quo of their own present), contemporary literature is increasingly interested in such fictions that confront their readers not with the radical strangeness of faraway worlds, but instead with conceptions of the future that closely resemble our current reality.
But how, precisely, do contemporary literature’s speculative futures look like? What forms of representation and styles of writing are being employed? How are authors modelling events, turning points, and temporal structures? And to what extent are established differentiations—between utopia and dystopia, between realism and speculation—being put to the test or even subverted?
The event series “Always Near” is a cooperation between the project Neighborhood in Contemporary Berlin Literature at the ZfL and the University of Potsdam starting in fall of 2022. The different formats (readings and talks, podium discussions, and the closing conference) explore the question of what kind of future the most recent works of contemporary literature present us with. They will take place across different locations in Berlin.
Fig. above: Julien Girard: Mars, 2099?, 2012, © ESO/J. Girard, License: CC BY 4.0.
Portrait Olga Grjasnowa: © Joachim Gern.