International Literature Festival Berlin: A Reading with J.M. Coetzee

The number of events for the International Literature Festival Berlin are many, but we couldn’t resist the reading with world renowned J.M. Coetzee held at the prestigious Berliner Festspiele arts center on the evening of Tuesday 10th September. 

The home of International Literature Festival Berlin 2013: Berliner Festspiele

Reading from a letter exchange between himself and American author Paul Auster, the Nobel Prize winner was accompanied on the evening by German actors Samuel Finzi and Burghart Klaußner to help deliver the reading in both English and German. 

Coetzee's many admirers queueing for a post reading book signing

The topics of the letters were broad: they opened discussing friendship: it’s essence, foundation and differing forms between same and different sexes. Coetzee ascertained that although friendship may be considered a weak imitation of love “Friendship is transparent, just what it seems to be, not like love or politics.”  

Coetzee reading - image by Tina Brüser

 

Further topics included Israel and its turbulent history, Coetzee’s view on this being that “perhaps the time has come for the women to take the reigns.” The discourse which followed also included books and the future of the library, Auster perturbed by the notion of a paperless library with mere images of books.

 

Coetzee in conversation with one of his readers at the post reading book signing

An intimate portrait of two esteemed contemporary intellectuals, the letters proved that despite the tendency to ignore the advice of our elders there is still much to be gained from doing so, and that they are not as Coetzee fears merely “scorned prophets, crying into the wilderness.”