Dateline: Berlin

This is the view from my hotel room the morning after I arrived. It’s been pretty gloomy since. Cloudy, rainy, windy:

I went downstairs to the lobby and here’s the first face that greeted me. I mean, is there no place one can go to anymore to get away from George W. Bush?

All the papers were covering the U.S. financial crisis and the federal bailout. It seemed to be one of only two things people were most eager to talk about upon finding out I had just arrived from the States. The other was Barack Obama.

I went to dinner with a few of the authors and organizers here at the festival and had a very interesting conversation with the Icelandic author Sjon. His latest novel, The Blue Fox, has been translated into English and is out with Telegram Books. He also happens to be an Oscar-nominated songwriter (for Dancer in the Dark.) We talked about Fes and its medina.

The next day I slept in late, to try to get over my cold, then went out briefly to stretch my legs. I ducked into the first bookstore I saw. Lots and lots of literature in translation, as you might expect in a country like Germany, which has such a strong tradition of translation.

And this is just before my reading, with Bernhard Robben, who translated my excerpt into German, and Floriane Danniel, the actress who read it for the audience. Bernhard is the German translator of many contemporary authors, including Ian McEwan and Martin Amis, and he also sometimes introduces authors at festivals.

I don’t even know what time it is now, so I probably should go off to bed. I’ll try to post more pictures soon.