Advance Ticket Sales for the 16th ilb started 14 July

The advance ticket sales for the 16th international literature festival berlin (ilb) started 14 July. The festival will take place from the 7th until the 17th of September 2016 at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele and other locations and will present contemporary international literature in Berlin. The complete programme will be published on the 24th of August 2016.

Please find the preliminary program here.

Roberto Bolaño was crazy about him, both Patti Smith and Carlos Fuentes have praised his genius – the 16th ilb will open on September 7 at 18:00 at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele with a presentation by the Argentine writer César Aira. Before that »16 Strings«, a quartet formed by members of the German Symphony Orchestra, will play »Divorce«, a 2010 composition by Fazil Say. Subsequently the Irish-American author Colm Tóibín will read from »Nora Webster«, his latest novel.

Between these two dates, 200 authors will introduce their work and examine important contemporary issues. Among them are: German Booksellers' Peace Prize winner Liao Yiwu with his first novel, Boualem Sansal (author of »2084«, an adaptation of George Orwell’s »1984«, which he will present on September 6 together with Norbert Lammert, the president of the Bundestag), European Essay Prize winner Alain de Botton, Emmanuel Carrère, Prix Goncourt laureate Mathias Énard, the great American publisher Jonathan Galassi, Premio Strega honorees Paolo Giordano and Nicola Lagioia, and South Korean Man Booker International Prize winner Han KangRabai al-Madhoun from Palestine (who won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2016 for »Destinies: The Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba«), Sharon Dodua Otoo (winner of the 2016 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize 2016), Rolf Hochhuth (prize-winning author of the »The Deputy« [1963], and many other theater plays, novels, poems and letters). Alexander Ilichevsky, Deepti Kapoor from India, Jehuda Amichai honoree Yitzhak Laor, Connie Palmen, Margriet de Moor and Benedict Wells (winner of the European Union Prize for Literature) have also confirmed their participation. The much-lauded children’s and young adult authors Carll Cneut from Belgium, Allen Say from Japan/ USA and the English author Judith Kerr, who was born in Berlin in 1923, will also be joining them.

Only those who change, remain true to themselves: We’re delighted about the collaboration with the Berliner Ensemble, and look forward to presenting Wolf Biermann’s autobiography for the first time on October 12. In keeping with this motto, we’re also launching more festival sections this year, such as Science and the Humanities, which is about presenting and sharing scientific insights, approaches, and contentions. Over the last few years the festival has gained considerable experience in bringing together scientists and writers as part of the »Science Year 2015 – City of the Future« initiative. Science and the Humanities will focus on creating awareness about the scientific work being carried out in Berlin, but is also about invigorating the interaction between scientists from other countries and continents.

In the long term we also intend to expand the range of themes covered within the festival to include, for instance, issues concerning major national newspapers while maintaining our focus on literature. This year’s program includes a presentation by Sigrid Weigel on Hannah Arendt and her approach to translating her own work, and a comprehensive symposium on Progress, Capitalism and Global Poverty. Teachers of Thomas Piketty like Angus Deaton (winner of the Nobel Prize in economics), Americans David Graeber, a social anthropologist, and financial analyst Michael Hudson will explore what can be done to help the disenfranchised among us on an individual and global level. Yanis Varoufakis and German philosopher Joseph Vogl will discuss the European financial system on the last day of the symposium. Science and the Humanities was developed together with the Einstein Foundation Berlin.

31 authors and illustrators will take part in this year’s »International Children’s Adult Literature« series of events, introducing 28 books of which 22 will be presented here for the first time. On September 7, the section will open with an address by Ruta Sepetys (USA), who will also present her novel »Salt to the Sea« for the first time in Germany. The symposium »Que(e)r durch die Welt – LGBTI* und KJL« (Queer around the world) examines how children’s and young adult media address identity, sexuality and love. Works centering primarily on LGBTI* characters, and how non-heteronormative concepts of partnership are depicted in literature will be discussed. There will also be a workshop discussion with the American author Alex Gino about his novel »George«, which has been co-organized with Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Editors hardly get a mention, even though they are highly instrumental – at least in Germany – in improving the quality and legibility of literary works. Why don’t they enjoy the same level of recognition as translators? A situation we intend to rectify by introducing some of the editors who are really making a difference. Following last year’s series on »The Art of Literary Translation«, this year’s series, »The Art of Editing«, starts up with a talk by Delf Schmidt, who was an editor at Rowohlt and Berlin Verlag for many years, followed by a discussion panel featuring Suhrkamp Verlag’s editor-in-chief Raimund Fellinger, Katharina Raabe (also with Suhrkamp), Franziska Günther (Aufbau Verlag), and Amber Qureshi (a senior literary editor who works in America), and emerging, Berlin-based editors.

For the first time, the Berlin-based writer and translator Shane Anderson will curate a series of readings and a poetry master class by CAConrad during the ilb as part of the Berliner Festspiele series HERE! HERE! THERE! Poets – and individuals aspiring to be – can sign up for the master class, but places are limited and registration is required. In the evenings, the American poets Will Alexander and CAConrad, the German poet Monika Rinck and Canadian-born Lisa Robertson will present their work.

Another special section is dedicated to Islamism, one of the major themes of this year’s ilb, different facets of which will be examined during various events at the festival. Frank A. Meyer, and Daniel Abbou (former press secretary of BER Airport), the architect Hubert Nienhoff, the journalist Georg Mascolo, and others, will talk about Germany and discuss the »Made in Germany« brand, which has suffered considerably due to recent high-risk »experiments« with interest rates, construction errors on major building projects, and VW’s rigged emissions software scandal.

Rebellious Women like Deborah Feldman (USA/ Germany), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe/ Switzerland) and Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh/ USA) share their tales of liberation; Luke Harding talks about Polonium, the highly expensive and rare radio-active isotope that killed Alexander Litvinenko (which was probably transported and administered by members of Putin’s secret service, who have never been prosecuted for their crimes); Patrick Kingsley (Great Britain) examines the migratory routes of refugees; Pankaj Mishra (India/ Great Britain) will talk about China and India today; Herta Müller, Jie Yu, Tienchi Martin and Liao Yiwu will share their thoughts on the present situation of Liu Xia and her husband, the detained Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo; Laurie Penny (Great Britain) will talk about the current state of feminism and read from her new book »Making Babies and Other Stories«. Finally David Van Reybrouck (Belgium) will examine why our current voting system isn’t really democratic, and makes a case for drawing lots instead.

Guests at this year’s Graphic Novel Day – hosted for the first time by Andreas Platthaus (»FAZ«) – include Zeina Abirached (Lebanon/ France), Marc-Antoine Mathieu (France), Kat Menschik and Jochen Schmidt (Germany) as well as Gilad Seliktar (Israel), Nicolas Wouters (Belgium) and Barbara Yelin (Germany).

This year, we will also be honoring Shakespeare (with Howard Jacobson) and Cervantes (with Susanne Lange und Petra Strien), both of whom died in 1616, Henry James (with Verena Auffermann and Colm Tóibín), and the Egyptian-born French writer Albert Cossery (with Samuel Shimon), who emigrated in 1945 to Paris, and lived in the Hotel La Louisiane in the Rue de Seine until his death on November 22, 2008.

This year’s New German Voices participants are: Shida Bazyar and Senthuran Varatharajah. The Treffen junger Autoren, an event that has been organized and hosted by the Berliner Festspiele for the last 30 years, is a contest for up-and-coming talents. Short Story aficionados can meet young European writers at the 15th »Scritture Giovani« and hear the participants Paul McVeigh, who hosted a short story festival in London, and Namwali Serpell from Zambia, who won the Caine Prize for African Writing, read from their work.

Once again, fantastic actors and moderators will lend their expertise to the festival: Burghart Klaußner will read from Peter Weiss’ »Coachman«, and Eva Mattes will read excerpts from Elena Ferrante’s new work. Denis Abrahams, Frank Arnold,  Matthias Scherwenikas and Tom Wlaschiha, among others, will recite the translated poems and prose of our invitees. Thomas Böhm, Paul Ingendaay, Andreas Platthaus, Iris Radisch, Bernhard Robben, Stefan Weidner and others will moderate various events.

Three exhibitions will add a special touch to the Haus der Berliner Festspiele:

»Vor allem eins: Dir selbst sei treu: Die Schauspielerin Channa Maron« (To your own self be true) tells of Channa Maron, who lived the first ten years of her life in Berlin, acted in numerous film and theater productions from an early age, and fled to Palestine via Paris in 1933. Maron played a key role in the Jewish Brigade’s entertainment troupe and was a celebrated actress and peace activist. The German graphic novelist Barbara Yelin and the Israeli illustrator and animator David Polonsky drew ten posters documenting events from Maron’s life, which will be exhibited in the ground floor lobby. In co-operation with the Goethe Institute Israel.

»The Poetry Project«, exhibited in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele’s entrance hall, portrays the lives of young refugees, between 14 and 18 years of age, who came to Berlin from Afghanistan and Iran without their families, and who have written about their experiences – poems of longing and tenderness, mortal fear and being foreign. In co-operation with »Spiegel« foreign correspondent Susanne Koelbl and others.

»The suitcase – walizka«, a literary photography project. While walking through Berlin, Ali Ghandtschi and Mark Giannori found an old suitcase full of photographs documenting almost one hundred years of a German family’s history, which the Polish authors organized and annotated.

The following exhibition will open at the Institut Français on September 6:
Curated by Walther Fekl, »Tête à tête« presents author portraits by German and French political caricaturists and cartoonists. Franz Kafka, Voltaire, Stefan Zweig and Jean-Paul Sartre, are but a few of the well-known individuals depicted by Rainer Ehrt, Walter Hanel, Frank Hoppmann and their French colleagues Daniel Maja, Pancho, Honoré and Nicolas Vial.

And finally: September 7 is worldwide reading day – this year’s focus is on Democracy without Populism – during which texts by Hannah Arendt, E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Max Weber, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said and Susan Sontag will be read in public. Please click here for more information.


Tickets for selected events are now available online, via telephone or at the box office of Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Berliner Festspiele - Box office
Schaperstraße 24, 10719 Berlin
Phone +49 30 254 89-100, Monday to Friday from 2pm to 6pm
Fax +49 30 254 89-230

or at

and at all known ticket agencies.

Admission rates

Single ticket (if not stated differently) 4€ up to 12€ including concessions, pupils 4€
Day pass 18€, concession 14€, pupils 8€
Festival pass 60€, concession 50€, pupils/ilb Friends and Sponsors 40€
Festival and day passes are valid for the events taking place at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele (except for early events of the Children's and Young Adult Literature section). There is no entitlement for admittance to sold out events.

Tickets for events of the section
International Children´s and Young Adult Literature are available via phone under (030) 278786-66/-70 (Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or via email under A Print@Home-Ticket will be sent via eMail, payment via transfer.


The ilb would like to thank all its supporters and our host in the 12th year, the Berliner Festspiele.

This year’s official festival poster was designed like last year by Sunandini Banerjee, editor, translator, book designer and illustrator of the Calcutta-based publishing house Seagull Books: