“Ein Kaffeefleck auf dem weißen Herd, Spuren im überfrorenen Schnee: Es sind Alltagsbeobachtungen, aus denen Andrea Scrima in ihrem neuen Roman Poesie schöpft. Präzise, ästhetische Beschreibungen rufen Bilder vor unser inneres Auge, die vertraut sind – und die wir doch so noch nie gesehen haben. Sie werden zu Metaphern für die Zeit, das Kommen und Gehen unserer Erinnerungen.”

— Anne Kohlick, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Read and listen to the review here (in German language).

Most of you know I’m not Serbian, but I’m honored to be included in this issue of contemporary European literature titled “Serbian Moments.” It’s nice to see the first chapter of the original English edition of my second book, “Like Lips, Like Skins,” published in this fine magazine of European writing. Thanks, Trafika Europe, and thanks, Andrew Singer, for championing so much important new writing in translation.

You can read the entire chapter here.

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Berlin friends! Come to a presentation and reading from the German edition of my second book, Kreisläufe.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | 19.30 pm | Brotfabrik

The event is in German language.

Als ich eines regnerischen Morgens die Treppen der U-Bahnstation Oranienburger Straße hinaufsteige und auf dem von Regentropfen gesprenkelten Asphalt vor mir den kupferfarbenen Widerschein der Straßenlaternen sehe, die von der letzten Nacht noch nicht erlöscht sind, erkenne ich plötzlich, wie jede Generation blindlings und unbewusst einem Auftrag unterworfen ist, die Fehler und Schmerzen der Generation vor ihr zu korrigieren, um die Schäden der Zeit wiedergutzumachen.

Im Roman Kreisläufe, das zweite Buch Scrimas, das beim Literaturverlag Droschl erschienen ist, wird mit psychologischer Tiefe eine Familiengeschichte ausgebreitet, die von starken emotionalen Bindungen, aber auch von Schicksalsschlägen erzählt. 

Felice zieht nach West-Berlin der frühen 1980er Jahren und lernt den Journalisten Micha kennen, von den psychischen Folgen seiner Internierung in einem DDR-Jugendwerkhof erfährt sie nur stückweise. Dem Verdrängen von Traumata begegnet Felice auch Jahre später, als sie nach Amerika zurückkehrt und die Tagebücher ihres verstorbenen Vaters findet, die alte, zum Teil vergessene „Büchsen“ der Erinnerung öffnen. Während sie den vertrauten Kurven der väterlichen Handschrift nachspürt und seine eigenwillige Codesprache zu entziffern beginnt, sucht sie in dieser knappen Chronik nach Schlüsseln zu einer Vergangenheit, die Geheimnisse und blinde Flecken in sich birgt. 

Nach der Lesung wird Kathrin Bach ein Gespräch mit der Autorin führen. Am Büchertisch der Buchhandlung Montag werden Exemplare von Kreisläufe zu erwerben sein. 

Weitere Informationen hier.

German friends: “Kreisläufe,” the German edition of my second book “Like Lips, Like Skins,” makes its official appearance today. An essentially untranslatable title has transformed into a word that means circuits, circulations, cycles, in other words contains multiple meanings that fit this novel about family trauma well.

I talked to moderator Frank Schmid at RBB about the book in the program “Der Tag” and you can hear the 15-minute recording online here.

“The Weaponization of Language”: an essay on trauma theory, mass communication, the somatization of guilt, and what Mary McCarthy already knew seventy years ago after watching Nixon’s “Checkers Speech” — in LitHub

In the 1990s, trauma theory, most notably that of Cathy Caruth, Judith Herman, Shoshana Felman, and Kirby Farrell, expanded the literary criticism of cultural trauma—based as it was on the Holocaust and the psychological interpretations of its aftermath—to encompass a broader range of subsequent political events that have greatly impacted contemporary society. Caruth drew on the neurological insights of Bessel van der Kolk to assert that trauma, because it so overwhelms the psyche’s capacity for normal perception and memory formation, remains unassimilated and takes its place outside language. The result is a blind spot that is essentially unknown to the traumatized individual, who nevertheless compulsively reenacts it in the form of flashbacks, involuntary bodily responses, phobic reactions, deluded ideation, etc.

While the biological metaphor—the notion that the mechanisms of individual trauma and its somatization can be applied to the pathological symptoms of the larger social body—is not a code for deciphering every troubling feature of the culture, it can nonetheless be instrumental for analyzing phenomena that otherwise defy interpretation, including the enabling fictions that American society, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary, creates to reinforce its fundamental beliefs about itself and to justify itself when its behavior transgresses its own declared moral boundaries.

— continue reading in LitHub

Coming soon from Literaturverlag Droschl: The German edition of Like Lips, Like Skins.

I’ve been co-translating it, we’re happy with the results, but the essentially untranslatable title has transformed into a word that means cycles, circuits, circulations, in other words contains multiple meanings that fit this novel about family trauma well.

Warily, circuitously, I peer back in time; I slip on my coat feeling raw and vulnerable. Sudden insights spark strobe-like in the dark, momentarily illuminating long-ago scenes in chiseled, lightning-etched detail. I shiver and tremble as unanticipated stabs of anxious rumination slice through the everyday like shrapnel. Discovery, when it comes, can be strangely unspectacular. Climbing the subway steps one drizzly morning, emerging onto Oranienburger Strasse as the copper-colored reflection of a streetlamp not yet turned off from the night before flashes in the scattered drops dotting the asphalt before me, I suddenly see it: each generation blindly, unknowingly conscripted in a mission to correct the failures and heartaches of the one preceding it, to undo the damage of time. 

Zaghaft und über Umwege blicke ich in die Vergangenheit. Ich ziehe mir den Mantel über, fühle mich roh und verletzlich. Plötzliche Erkenntnisse leuchten wie ein Scheinwerfer in die Tiefe und erhellen für einen Augenblick längst vergangene Szenen in feinen, blitzartig gestochenen Details. Mich fröstelt, ich bekomme Gänsehaut, wenn Momente ängstlichen Grübelns wie scharfe Pfeile den Alltag durchbohren. Entdeckungen können, wenn sie eintreffen, verblüffend unspektakulär sein. Als ich eines regnerischen Morgens die Treppen der U-Bahnstation Oranienburger Straße hinaufsteige und auf dem von Regentropfen gesprenkelten Asphalt vor mir den kupferfarbenen Widerschein der Straßenlaternen sehe, die von der letzten Nacht noch nicht erlöscht sind, erkenne ich plötzlich, wie jede Generation blindlings und unbewusst einem Auftrag unterworfen ist, die Fehler und Schmerzen der Generation vor ihr zu korrigieren, um die Schäden der Zeit wiedergutzumachen.

Recorded and now on Youtube: Andrea Scrima speaks with Cheryl Sucher as part of the “Between Two Worlds” series about editing the new anthology Writing the Virus, a New York Times Sunday Book Review “New & Noteworthy” title of 2021.

“Vivid testimony to the depth and breadth of suffering during this uniquely stressful time.” Kirkus

In a time when the virus and the viral political climate form a single continuum, we’d like to announce Writing the Virusan anthology compiled from the Corona Issue published online at StatORec magazine from mid-April to September 2020. Its 31 authors—among them Joan Juliet Buck, Rebecca Chace, Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Barbara Fischkin, Edie Meidav, Caille Millner, Uche Nduka, Mui Poopoksakul, Roxana Robinson, Jon Roemer, Joseph Salvatore, Liesl Schillinger, Andrea Scrima, Clifford Thompson, Saskia Vogel, Matthew Vollmer, and David Dario Winner—explore the experience of lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, and the politicization of the virus from a wide variety of perspectives: tracking the virus’s progression from epidemiological threat to international crisis and sketching out the evolution of Corona’s rapidly changing meaning over the past half year.  One of the first to offer advance praise is Jacquelyn Mitchard: 

The essays and reportage in StatORec’s new anthology are about time: Time is upon us. Time may be running out. Time is lost; time is found. This is a new time, in which our Western predilection to plan is revealed as a cardboard construct, blown down by an enemy contained in a breath. Yet with its literary response in real time, this dedicated issue stands as witness to our illusions and our failures but also to our tenacious willingness to love and to learn. 

Writing the Virus, ed. by Andrea Scrima and David Winner, publication date: November 1, 2020. (9781944853754, 280 pages, $18.50, Outpost 19 Books). 

AUTHORS’ VIDEOS: 

The downtown Manhattan performing arts space HERE Arts Center has been featuring a video each week of our authors reading short excerpts from their essays, poems, and short stories in an exclusive #stillHERE with StatORec playlist

Writing the Virus can be ordered on Amazon or directly from the publisher

ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR WRITING THE VIRUS

We live in the era of the pandemic, more than one million still die each year of TB, 700,000 from HIV and AIDS, nearly half a million of malaria. And since January: COVID-19. As I read Writing the Virus, the death toll from this new disease surpassed one million. The scale of this loss is unimaginable. We need to feel it one person at a time, which is exactly what Writing the Virus does with its moving diaries and essays, with its psalms of grief. This is a hard issue to read, but it preserves the truth of a bitter, bitter time, maybe it will even help us mourn. A task many of the world’s most powerful governments have proven unwilling and even eager not to do. 
—John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist and The Park; editor of the Freeman’s anthologies

The months spent living in the shadow of the pandemic have compressed and expanded time in unusual ways. Writing the Virus is an important and compelling reminder of the days we might otherwise lose to the haze of the past and evidence of the myriad reckonings—public and personal—that will shape us going forward. 
—Oscar Villalon, Editor, Zyzzyva 

If a literary remedy could soothe the nested anxieties of our current moment, Writing the Virus would be the antidote we’ve been seeking. This bold new anthology from the editors of StatORec draws on 30 essays, stories, excerpts, and poems published on the magazine’s website as the pandemic unfolded. The authors, including Edie Meidav, Uche Nduka, and Liesl Schillinger, share trenchant investigations and paeans to love and survival while the irregular rhythms of locked-down days undulate beneath the surface. This impressive anthology lets readers view the virus, racial violence, and volatile political climate as a triad within a continuum. A testament to the vital role of writers—as witnesses, chroniclers, translators, synthesizers, resistors—during uncertain times, Writing the Virus will energize, enrage, and give you reasons to be hopeful. The anthology’s epic scope reveals why 2020 is an inflection point, the year of plagues and miracles.
—Margot Douaihy, Editor, Northern New England Review

Covid-19 is the new normal, an unprecedented cultural shift that pressurizes our communities and estrangements, requiring us to reinvent the discourse we use to describe the “everyday.” This anthology provides us with vital and thoughtful dispatches from inside the virus’s transformative, insidious tedium. Vulnerable, bold, tentative, utopic, Writing the Virus gave me un-Zoomy succor from some of the best essayists writing today. 
Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder and Cruel Futures

This mighty chorus of voices, carefully mixed and layered, pierces the muddled noise of our pandemic moment. How thrilling and comforting to witness some of our most powerful writers wielding their best weapons against “the invisible enemy”—shimmering artistry, ruthless candor, and a fearless gaze.
—Debra Jo Immergut, author of You Again and The Captives

How to take the temperature of this crisis, this opportunity, this nightmare, this wake-up call? Writing the Virus rounds up a wonderfully diverse array of voices, each addressing—in its own singular, memorable way—all that the pandemic has laid bare. This collection gives us what we need now: talented writers of all stripes, weighing in with honesty, vigor, anguish, and hope. Read this book: it’ll help. 
—Martha Cooley, author of The Archivist and Thirty-three Swoons

StatORec, which stands for “Statement of Record,” is an online literary magazine founded by writer and filmmaker John Reed. 

Outpost 19 Books is an award-winning publisher of fine fiction and nonfiction books based in San Francisco. Their titles have been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and dozens of other major and indie media outlets.

It’s our belief that these pieces of writing, composed in unusual times and under considerable pressure, will endure as documents of a particular period of history, testimonies to states of mind we will quite possibly have forgotten as we turn our attention to the new challenges facing us.

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