It is a problem with the moderators of book lectures in Berlin. A big one, apparently. My conclusion is based on the latest 4-5 experiences in this area, among them the lectures held in the last four months by Nicole Krauss (pictured left), Jonathan Safran Foer, Colson Whitehead...
What's wrong with the moderators?
- They prepare their homework so well that they stop thinking normally about the books and the authors. They have in mind lots of irrelevant and personal details instead of evaluating critically the books and, why not, the authors. I wonder what are their references in terms of bibliography of literary critics.
- Why do they ask so irrelevant and stereotypical questions (for example, the author of a book touching upon the issue of vegetarianism if he is vegetarian, or an African-American author what does he thinks about Obama administration)? Why?
- The German-speaking part of the presentations are impressively longer than the English ones. Meanwhile, the authors, without any knowledge of German, should find something to do or think about (a 15 minutes or even longer nap is more than welcome). I can understand that the edition houses are intended to sell the books on the local market but though...the wonderful author is with you, there, take this opportunity and respect his or her time. Or at least, provide them with a translator. It could be the beginning of a gracious friendship.
Beyond these shorts inconveniences, I continue to believe that the literary life and, in general, the intellectual life in Berlin continues to be extremely interesting.