May 18, 2024 | 2:00pm - 3:00 pm
The Wende Museum

Haunted Territory: Jenny Erpenbeck in Conversation With Louise Steinman

Jenny Erpenbeck’s childhood, she has commented, “belongs in a museum.” Born in the now- defunct GDR; she was twenty-two and in university when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. In her most recent novel, Kairos, Erpenbeck narrates two breakups: one romantic, one political. An intense and formative relationship collapses, like the GDR, leaving behind a narrative ruin. In Go, Went, Gone (2015), she centers her novel on the moral question of asylum, through an encounter between a privileged German citizen and a small group of displaced African refugees. Erpenbeck, an epic storyteller and one of the most celebrated authors in Germany, discusses her work with writer, artist, and literary curator Louise Steinman.

This program is presented in partnership with Villa Aurora.


Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. She is the author of The Old Child & Other Stories, The End of Days, The Book of Words, and Visitation, which NPR called “a story of the century as seen by the objects we’ve known and lost along the way.” The End of Days won the prestigious Hans Fallada Prize and the International Foreign Fiction Prize and is the author’s representative text for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Her most well-known work, Go, Went, Gone, was longlisted for The Man Booker International Prize in 2018, of which New Yorker critic James Wood noted that the book would be cited “[when] Erpenbeck wins the Nobel Prize.” Following her insightful non-fiction essay collection Not a Novel comes the novel Kairos, longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award for Translated Literature. An epic storyteller and arguably the most powerful voice in contemporary German literature, Erpenbeck lives in Berlin.

Louise Steinman is a writer, artist, and literary curator. She is the author of three books, including The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation; and The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War. She was the founder and longtime curator of the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library and currently co-directs the Los Angeles Institute for Humanities at USC.

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