The Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship for Literature was instituted at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1998 by the publishers S. Fischer in association with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Freie Universität Berlin and the Veranstaltungsforum of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. In addition to teaching at Freie Universität, the author holds a special Guest Professorship Lecture in Berlin and reads in further cities at various literary events.
The guest professorship is intended to promote the dissemination and critical analysis of world literature. It gives students at Freie Universität Berlin the chance to create literature with internationally renowned authors. The results of this collobaration have been documented and published in Edition AVL.
English poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw was born in 1962 in London. At the age of eleven her family moved to a small village in Essex. Looking back she describes this period in her vivid memoir The Importance of Music to Girls (2007): “I didn’t work: my language, accent. Codes and clothes were all wrong. People laughed at my name and mimicked the way I spoke. My voice was too posh, I had ink on my shirt, I was messy and skinny and dead white.” In 1980 Greenlaw returned to London and studied seventeeth-century art at the Courtauld Institute.
Her first collection of poems The Cost of Getting Lost in Space, was published in 1991. For Night Photograph (1993), the first volume within Faber & Faber’s prestigious series of poetry, she was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize and the Whitbread Book Award.
Not only in reviews about music and art, Greenlaw often crosses the borders of the mere text put between the two covers of a book. For BBC Radio she adapted for instance Virginia Woolf’s novel Night and Day and dealt in her radio documentaries with the effects of light and vision in the arctic midsummer and in particularly dark places in England. Her sound work Audio Obscura (2011) won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and she was the first artist-in-residence at the Science Museum.
In the winter term 2016/17 Abdourahman Waberi is S. Fischer guest professor. He is considered a "National Writer of Djibouti" and was counted by the French literary magazine Lire to the 50 most important and influential contemporary authors in 2005.
Waberi was born in 1965 in Djibouti. In 1985 he moved to France and studied English and French literature in Caen and Dijon, where he completed his studies with a thesis on the Somali author Nuruddin Farah. 2012 Waberi received his doctorate at the University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense. He has also worked as a journalist and literary critic as well as a publishing consultant for contemporary African literature. As a columnist, he writes regularly for Le Monde diplomatique. For his literary work Waberi received numerous fellowships and lectureships abroad. He currently teaches as a professor of Francophone literature and creative writing at George Washington University in Washington DC, USA.
His books have been translated into more than ten languages and won numerous awards. Waberi’s first volume of stories «Le Pays sans ombre» appeared in 1994. It was followed by the band «Cahier nomade» (1996) and the novel «Balbala» (1997), which can be read as a trilogy about Djibouti. Short stories of the two volumes, in the center of the stories is the daily live of the small state, have been published in 1998 in German «Die Legende der Nomadensonne». For «Cahier nomade» Waberi received the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique Noire. His satirical novel «Aux États-Unis d'Afrique» (In the United States of Africa, 2008) creates an imaginary cartography of the world, historical and political conditions and usual viewpoints are turned upside down. Last Waberi published the novel «La Divine Chanson» (2015) and the poetry collection «Mon nom est aube» (2016).
Together with the guest professorship a series of S. Fischer guest of honour-lectures was established beginning with Antonio Skármeta from Chile and Carlos Fuentes from Mexico. In May 2007 Orhan Pamuk, Nobel-Prize Winner of Literatur 2007, read from his Book Istanbul. To mark the 10th anniversary of the guest professorship, Paul Auster read in September 2008 at the Berliner Ensemble and the Nobel-Prize Winner Kenzaburo Oe on 1 November 2008 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt as guests of honour. For the 15th anniversary the first guest professor from 1998, Vladimir Sorokin, read in June 2013 at the Berliner Ensemble from his book The Blizzard.
Since 1995, the Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship was held by the following authors (in alphabetical order):
Former Samuel Fischer Guests of Honour:
Andreas F. Wilkes
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