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Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship for Literature

Photo: Phil DeraReading in the KÖNIG Gallery Berlin, Photo: Phil DeraAndreas F. Wilkes of Veranstaltungforum welcoming the guest, photo: Phil DeraPhoto: Phil DeraThomas Ostermeier and Edouard Louis, photo: Phil DeraPhoto: Phil DeraPhoto: Phil DeraPhoto: Phil DeraPhoto: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera
Reading in the KÖNIG Gallery Berlin, Photo: Phil Dera
Andreas F. Wilkes of Veranstaltungforum welcoming the guest, photo: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera
Thomas Ostermeier and Edouard Louis, photo: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera
Photo: Phil Dera

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. 

Literatures of the World

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.

Summer Term

Édouard Louis, born as Eddy Bellegueule in 1992 in the north of Fance, is a literary rising star. In his autobiographical debut "En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule", published in 2014, he describes his childhood of poverty, alcoholism, unemployment and racism and his escape from these precarious conditions. The book, a bestseller in France and translated in over 20 languages, provoked a heated debate over social inequality and the resulting violence.

In 2016, his second autobiographical novel "Histoire de la violence" followed. In it, he describes how a chance encounter on Christmas night 2012 ends in a nightmare. The novel is going to be adapted for the stage by Thomas Ostermeier and the premiere will be June 3rd at the Schaubühne Berlin.

For Louis who studied at the École Normale Supérieure and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris the question of reasons for violence is of central importance: “The world in which we live is deeply affected by violence. And we have to talk about it in order to reduce the violence. The only way to fight violence is to talk about it. The people talking about violence are the biggest bearers of hope for me.”(Interview in the NZZ, 10.12.2017)

Winter Term

In the winter term 2017/18 Joshua Cohen is S. Fischer guest professor. Cohen, who won the Pushcart Prize 2012 and the Matanel Award for Young Promising Jewish Writers 2013 is often compared by critics to his rhetorically brilliant colleagues David Foster Wallace and David Pynchon.

Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in New Jersey and studied Composition at the Manhattan School of Music. He lives in New York City and works as a writer, essayist and critic for Harpers’ Magazine, the New York Times Book Review and for London Review of Books. In his published stories and novels Cohen employs a precise power of observation and a virtuoso style of writing, which ranges from abstract through playful to radical language. He also creates multiple layers of meaning through visual representation such as capital letters and blank spaces.
His novel “Witz” was on the shortlist for the “Best Books of 2010” by the weekly magazine The Village Voice and his novel “4 Messages” was listed on the Shortlist “Best Books of 2012” by The New Yorker. In 2017 he was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists.

Samuel Cohen Photo: Phil Dera
Samuel Cohen Photo: Phil Dera

Samuel Fischer Honorary Lectures

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):

  • Hector Abad, Colombia
  • Nora Amin, Egypt
  • Scott Bradfield, USA
  • Mircea Cartarescu, Romania
  • Javier Cercas, Spain
  • Amit Chaudhuri, India
  • Joshua Cohen, USA
  • Victor Erofeyev, Russia
  • Nuruddin Farah, Somalia
  • Lavinia Greenlaw, Great Britain
  • Nedim Gürsel, Turkey/France
  • Andrew Sean Greer, USA
  • Robert Hass, USA
  • David Hinton, USA
  • Daniel Kehlmann, Germany und Adam Thirlwell, Great Britain
  • Etgar Keret, Israel
  • László Krasznahorkai, Hungary
  • Alberto Manguel, Canada
  • Yann Martel, Canada
  • Michèle Métail, France
  • Valentin Yves Mudimbe, DR Congo
  • Kenzaburo Oê, Japan
  • Alice Oswald, Great Britain
  • Fernando Pérez, Cuba
  • Sergio Ramirez, Nicaragua
  • Richard Powers, USA
  • Teresa Präauer, Austria
  • Raoul Schrott, Austria
  • Sjón, Iceland
  • Vladimir Sorokin, Russia
  • Marlene Streeruwitz, Austria
  • Sara Stridsberg, Sweden
  • Dubravka Ugrešic, Croatia
  • Tomas Venclova, Latvia
  • Abdourahman Waberi, Dschibuti
  • Cécile Wajsbrot, France
  • Feridun Zaimoglu, Germany
  • Joshua Cohen, USA


Former Samuel Fischer Guests of Honour:

  • Paul Auster, USA
  • Carlos Fuentes, Mexiko
  • Kenzaburo Oê, Japan
  • Orhan Pamuk, Türkei
  • Antonio Skármeta, Chile
  • Vladimir Sorokin, Russia


Édouard Louis

Reading Berlin

"History of literature, history of violence"
Freie Universität Berlin, Peter Szondi Institut
29 May 2-4 pm, 08 June 12-6 pm and 06 July 12-6 pm

Further Information
Homepage Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship



    Taubenstraße 23
    10117 Berlin
    Andreas F. Wilkes

    +49 (30) 27 87 18-0


    +49 (30) 27 87 18-18