In spring 2021, Professors Deniz Göktürk and Elisabeth Krimmer (University of California, Davis) hosteda series of Zoom conversations with contemporary writers entitled “Archives of Migration: The Power of Fiction in Times of Fake News.” This series, which continues into fall 2021, engages with writers who bring diverse perspectives to questions of societal polarization and the power of poetic imagination, and presents opportunities to experience contemporary literature in action and think about questions of truth in fiction.


Conversations with three writers based in Berlin, Germany – Sharon Dodua Otoo, Zafer Şenocak, and Yoko Tawada – addressed such questions based on readings from their recent works. Video recordings of the events are available for viewing below.


In fall 2021, the series continues to feature multilingual writers, featuring Ilija Trojanow, Saša Stanišić, and Olga Grjasnowa and adds the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES) as a sponsor.




Fall 2021

October 1           Confluences

12:00 – 1:30 pm via Zoom

Ilija Trojanow in conversation with Chunjie Zhang


Ilija Trojanow (Iliya Troyanov) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1965. In 1971 his family fled through Yugoslavia and Italy to Germany, where they gained political asylum. A year later, the family moved to Kenya and lived in Nairobi from 1972 to 1984, interrupted by a three-year period in Germany. Trojanow studied law and ethnology in Munich. In 1989, he founded the Marino Publishing House, which focuses on African literature. In 1998, he moved to Bombay and in 2003 to Cape Town. Since 2008 he has been based in Vienna. Trojanow has published twenty books in different genres (novel, travelogue, reportage, political essay), six of which have been translated into English, including his first novel Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall (It’s A Big World and Salvation Lurks Everywhere), Doppelte Spur: Roman, EisTau, Der entfesselte Globus: Reportagen, Die Versuchungen der Fremde: Unterwegs in Arabien, Indien und Afrika, and Confluences: Forgotten Histories from East and West (co-author Ranjit Hoskote). His most successful novel Der Weltensammler (The Collector of Worlds) has been translated into 30 languages. He has received numerous literary awards and has taught as a visiting professor at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Deutsches Literaturinstitut in Leipzig, at Washington University in St. Louis, the Film Academy in Vienna, New York University and Dartmouth College, USA.

October 22           Fictions of Origins
12:00 – 1:30 pm via Zoom

Registration Required
Zoom Registration Link: 

Saša Stanišić
in conversation with Lilla Balint, Djordje Popović, and Damion Searls

Saša Stanišić will be reading and discussing passages from Where Your Come From (forthcoming in 2021). The conversation will be in English. Saša Stanišić, born in Višegrad/Bosnia and Herzegovina, lives in Hamburg. Fleeing to Germany during the Bosnian War, he studied German and Slavic Literature at the University of Heidelberg, and is also a graduate of the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig. Stanišić is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Adelbert-von-Chamisso-Preis, the Alfred-Döblin-Preis, and the Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse. His latest novel Herkunft (2019; Where You Come From) won the German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis). Other prose works include Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert (2006; How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone), Vor dem Fest (2014), Fallensteller (2016) and the children’s book Hey, hey, hey, Taxi! (2021). His texts have been translated into more than thirty languages.


November 19           The Power of Multilingualism
12:00 – 1:30 pm via Zoom

Registration Required
Zoom Registration Link:

Olga Grjasnowa in conversation with Elisabeth Krimmer, Karina Deifel, and Yasemin Yildiz

Olga Grjasnowa was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and emigrated to Hesse in 1996. Her family was among the 200,000 Russians of Jewish descent who received German citizenship due to the so-called Quota Refugee Act. Grjasnowa studied art history and Slavic Studies at the University of Göttingen and received a degree in Creative Writing from the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig. She has lived in Poland, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and England, where she was a writer in residence at the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick. Grjasnowa is the author of Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt (2012; All Russians Love Birch Trees), Die juristische Unschärfe einer Ehe (2014), Gott ist nicht schüchtern (2019; City of Jasmine), Der verlorene Sohn (2020), and Die Macht der Mehrsprachigkeit: Über Herkunft und Vielfalt (2021). She was awarded the Anna Seghers-Preis, Klaus-Michael Kühne Prize, and the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize.



Spring 2021

March 5           Layers of Untold Stories

Sharon Dodua Otoo in conversation with Jon Cho-Polizzi and Deniz Göktürk

Author and activist Sharon Dodua Otoo was born in London in 1972 and moved to Germany in 1992. Otoo is involved with the Initiative of Black People in Germany and Phoenix e.V. and edits the English-language literary series “Witnessed” with Edition Assemblage. After publishing her first two Berlin-based novellas in English, she began publishing in German, winning the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016 with her short story Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin [Herr Gröttrup Sits Down]. Her first novel Adas Raum [Ada’s Realm], which fleshes out a character from that story, was published by S. Fischer Verlag in February 2021.

Just one week after the book launch in Berlin, the event on March 5 was the launch of the book in English language.

Jon Cho-Polizzi is an educator and freelance literary translator. With a background in Literature, History, and Translation Studies, he received his PhD in German and Medieval Studies from UC Berkeley in 2020.

Link to blog posts on the Multicultural Germany Project:

Elizabeth Sun and Ardo Ali: Animating Untold Stories: Sharon Dodua Otoo

Qingyang Zhou: Against Categorization: On Inanimate Objects as Narrators in Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum


Apr 2               Unreadable Archives

Zafer Şenocak in conversation with Deniz Göktürk, Kristin Dickinson (University of Michigan), and participants of the seminar on “Modern German Literature: Archival Resistance”

Zafer Şenocak has been publishing poems and prose in German since 1979. He has held appointments as a writer in residence at various universities in France, Canada, and the United States. His works have been translated into many languages. A selection of his essays was published in English translation by Leslie A. Adelson as Atlas of a Tropical Germany (2000). Fragmentary histories and unreadable archives are recurring themes in his writings. His novel Gefährliche Verwandtschaft (1998) was translated into English by Tom Cheesman as Perilous Kinship (2009). His novel Alman Terbiyesi (2007) was written in Turkish and translated into German by Helga Dağyeli-Bohne as Deutsche Schule (first edition published in 2012; second, revised edition published in 2019). His recent books are In deinen Worten: Mutmaßungen über den Glauben meines Vaters (2016) und Das Fremde, das in jedem wohnt: Wie Unterschiede unsere Gesellschaft zusammenhalten (2018). He also continued to publish volumes of poetry in German and Turkish: Der Gedanke des Freundes (2018) and Kıyı ve Kabuklar (2018). Şenocak is a regular commentator on culture and politics in newspapers such as Die Weltdie tageszeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. He is currently working on a new novel titled Eurasia.

Kristin Dickinson is Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching focus on questions of migration, translation, world literature, and multilingualism. Her book Disorientations: German-Turkish Cultural Contact in Translation (1811-1946) is forthcoming in May 2021 with Penn State University Press.

Link to blog posts on the Multicultural Germany Project:

Elizabeth Sun: Imagining the Other Side of Things: Zafer Şenocak and Hidden Archives

Qingyang Zhou: “Ich bin Diskursfeind“: Zafer Şenocak on Unreadable Archives


Apr 16             The Language of Dreams

Yoko Tawada in conversation with Elisabeth Krimmer and Jonas Teupert on her novel Paul Celan und der chinesische Engel (2020).

Yoko Tawada, born in Tokyo/Japan, is based in Berlin. She completed her undergraduate education at Waseda University with a major in Russian literature, then studied German literature at the Universities of Hamburg and Zurich, graduating with a doctorate degree. Tawada has been publishing poems and prose—novels, stories, plays, and essays—in Japanese and German since 1987. She is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Lessing Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Kleist-Prize, and the Goethe Medal. 

The Emissary (Sendbo-o-te) was selected for a National Book Award in 2018. Her many book publications include Wo Europa anfängt (1991; Where Europe Begins), Talisman (1996), Überseezungen (2002), Abenteuer der deutschen Grammatik. Gedichte (2010), Etüden im Schnee (2014; Memoirs of a Polar Bear), and akzentfrei (2016).

Links to blog posts on the Multicultural Germany Project:

Qingyang Zhou and Jezell Lee: Pandemic Palimpsest: Yoko Tawada’s Paul Celan und der chinesische Engel

Elizabeth Sun: Traveling in Pandemic Times: Yoko Tawada and Poetic Border-Crossing