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“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.

Statorec inaugurated its Corona Issue on April 16, 2020 with an essay by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Andrea Scrima, titled Corona Report. Returning from Italy at the end of February 2020, just as the first lockdowns went into place, she reflects on the beginnings of the pandemic and on the Bergamo/Valencia soccer game in Milan, the biological bomb that led to the virus’s rapid spread throughout northern Italy. The hallucinatory prose in William Cody Maher’s Double Featurepublished one week later, gropes its way through a labyrinth of internalized fear as human encounters are measured in terms of physical distance. In late April, Statorec editor David Dario Winner’s Daisy Assassin followed, which exposes the uncomfortable barriers of ethnicity, civic cooperation, and racism as experienced by someone going out for what is no longer an ordinary run. In Windows, Beverly Gologorsky’s quiet meditations probe the geography of pandemic isolation, while in Excerpts from Another Love Discourse, taken from a novel-in-progress, Edie Meidav weaves the virus’s sudden appearance into a larger narrative of love and loss. German jazz pianist Christian von der Goltz’s Halted Time listens to what’s behind the eerie silence of the virus’s global spread; Matthew Vollmer reflects on some of the quirkier aspects of lockdown in his kaleidoscopic Quarantine Diary; and Aimee Parkison’s dreamlike riff Masks and Guns captures America in all its dangerous absurdity in a cops and robbers game gone horribly wrong.

As the pandemic made its way around the globe, the end of May saw the publication of former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Joan Juliet Buck’s Corona Diarywhich masterfully assesses the wear and tear on the psyche as we attempt to navigate this strange time, while Alice Stephens’s After Ginger reflects on anti-Asian and anti-Asian-American sentiment in times of Corona—and how some things don’t seem to change. In Rooms and Clarinets, Clifford Thompson reflects on Covid, racism, Malcolm X, lockdown, and discovering a new room within to make one’s voice heard; Alexander Graeff’s Perpetuum Mobile describes long-distance love and patriarchy in times of pandemic; and Scott Martingell’s Poems in Times of Corona expose the little hypocrisies spoon-fed to us by the powers that be. As the Black Lives Matter protests flared up in early June, Nigerian-American poet Uche Nduka’s Speaking of Which: Work in Progress probes racism’s dark and violent undercurrent in American society, while Rebecca Chace’s Masks and Gloves looks at white privilege and “I can’t breathe” in the Corona crisis. Barbara Fischkin’s essay Autism in the Time of Covid details one man’s lockdown in disabled housing, and Jon Roemer’s Uncertainty Ever After explores what it means to be a writer in precarious times.

In her provocative essay White Fantasy: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Covid, and the Myth of Self-Sufficiency, Joan Marcus unmasks the unsavory sentiments behind one of America’s most-cherished narratives—the conquest of the West—while Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer’s We Are Dreaming of the Future Season chronicles the author’s escape from Manhattan to the comparative, albeit unsettling, calm of Maine. In Between Two Worlds, Cheryl Sucher investigates the stark differences in the way the Covid-19 pandemic has been handled (and virtually eradicated) in her second home of New Zealand, while practicing physician and writer Christine Henneberg’s Pain and Coping describes women’s increasing vulnerability to mental and physical pain during and after an abortion procedure. Caille Millner’s Something New appeals to the power of love in the Black community as our strongest and most promising force for change; Mui Poopoksakul’s The Blue Vial delves into the psychological aspects of what appears to be an anti-Asian hate crime with a curiously absent culprit; and Zeynep Camuşcu’s Corona in Istanbul highlights the unerring behavior of a city’s irrepressible inhabitants. In Flattening the Curve, John Casquarelli and Aydin Behnam imagine a dystopian future in a haunting counterpoint of poetry and prose, while Saskia Vogel’s Around the Bend looks at new motherhood and the reconfigured geometry of transatlantic family ties in times of pandemic.

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, Roxana Robinson has written a powerful essay on the post-Cold War militarization of the police and the racist roots of police brutality. Militarizing the Police traces the history of armed police in the US from the peacekeeping forces in colonial times and the slave patrols of the American South to the preventative violence practiced by white militias in the post-Civil War era that could not endure the sight of armed Black freedmen. Cecilia Hansson’s My Body Has Failed Me and Now I’m About to Die revisits the lung ailments of Thomas Bernhard and Franz Kafka as she suffers through a debilitating period of viral infection with SARS-CoV-2; Tiffany Winters’s Hope Interrupted: Organ Transplantation in the Middle of a Pandemic details the unknowable in an essay on grief and the incomprehensibility of medical decision-making; and Liesl Schillinger’s Hope in the Age of Covid probes fact checking and the mined landscape of hope in perilous times. To conclude StatORec’s Corona Issue, Joseph Salvatore’s In the Time of “In the Time of”—a brilliant and moving work of literary criticism, linguistic essay, and personal testimony in one—asks when we will be able to mourn the Covid deaths, when we will be “allowed to grieve and mourn the loss of our old lives.”

True to its mission, Statorec (“Statement of Record”) is motivated by the urge to record a variety of voices going through the same experience, but in very different ways—before the drive to return to normality blots out the memory of lockdown, of charts and graphs and epidemiological factoids. It’s this we find ourselves thinking about the most: how our reality shifts with each new outrage, and how little we understand about the way these events are changing us in the long term. As we undergo a kind of grinding down of reality in the process of adapting to unheard-of change, what motivates us to publish this issue is the feeling that there’s a fragile chance to be seized, if only we could sustain our attention and belief long enough to act on it.

In the December 28, 2018 edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Esther Kinsky, acclaimed author of River and Hain, chose A Lesser Day as her favorite book of 2018:

“In A Lesser Day (German edition: Wie viele Tage, Droschl 2018), Andrea Scrima addresses, with poetic intensity, alienation and non-belonging as a state of mind in a life lived between two locations toward the end of the twentieth century. The first-person narrator—an artist—was born in New York and lives in Berlin; occasionally, she returns home to her native city. Without giving rise to an hierarchy of impressions, the narrator records everyday life between the present and a remembered past in miniatures that brim with sensory input. Everything is equally important, like the components in a mosaic. The resulting whole, both subtle and haunting, is made up of fragments of fragile places. The density of moods is remarkable; it allows the weather, light, smells, and colors to become physically alive.”

— Esther Kinsky

esther süddeutsche

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I’ll be taking part in a panel today on language diversity in the literatures of Berlin.

Come to the Literarisches Colloquium in Wannsee! 

4:30 – 6 p.m.
PANEL III
: Berliner Futur – entropische Literaturen?
Keynote: Anne Fleig
Participants: Andrea ScrimaEugen RugeMitja VachedinAnne Fleig
Moderation: Martin Jankowski
Featured Poet: Amora Bosco

Read the full program here. Parataxe

Read the full review here. 

Andrea Scrima’s brilliant debut novel, A Lesser Day (Spuyten Duyvil), creates a realistic psychological portrait of an artist’s life (…). The narrator and the reader are haunted by the unseen, the unspoken, the uncaptured, the unconscious forgotten details lurking in the vivid portraits of the artist’s memory. (…) A delicious unease slowly builds through the pages, suggesting that in every described detail there is a hidden meaning—a meaning often hidden even to the narrator. The fact that the narrator can remember so many minor details and the fact that even such a reliable, careful memory could be wanting is as terrifying to the reader as it is to the narrator. One of the delicate disturbances of the novel is the sense that if one’s memory can’t be fully trusted, no one can be trusted, even the self. (…) In a sense, each short chapter is like snapshot, the snapshots the narrator takes with the camera in her hand and the camera in her mind, wanting to capture some specific detail of each and every day—even the “lesser days,” when the washed-out details are so challenging to capture that even the most carefully framed photographs are unlikely to develop a vibrant image.

– Aimee Parkison

Rail review

I had the pleasure of talking again to Brainard Carey of the Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies—you can hear the full interview here at Yale Radio. We talk about writing and art, my book A Lesser Day, memory, place, becoming an artist in post-gentrification New York and Berlin, the critical distance of a foreigner, Joseph Beuys and his performance I Like America and America Likes Me, Sophie Calle’s The Detachment, an essay I wrote for The Millions, and more — and I read from two sections of A Lesser Day.

 

How to go back in time; one would have to subtract everything that has come after, shed the skins that have accumulated since: peel them off one by one and forget them. To undo all that has occurred, to have found oneself in none of these situations, to lose entire parts of oneself; to forget. To disappear, to undo oneself. And when my mind carries me back, it is as another.

 

Yale Radio

 

 

Radio interview with Joachim Scholl at Deutschlandfunk Kultur

(in German language)

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Scholl: Sie haben, wie ich finde, eine ganz intensive Sprache gefunden. Ich lese mal einen Satz vor, es ist mein Lieblingssatz. Da erklärt die Erzählerin, dass ihr Hund davongelaufen ist. Sie sucht ihn, findet ihn nicht, kommt dann mit einem anderen, der ihr zuläuft, wieder nach Hause. Und dann heißt es, Zitat: “Und so waren wir heimgekehrt mit einem Hund, einem nassen, hungrigen kleinen Hund, der mit einem tiefen, erschöpften Seufzer in meinen Armen zusammenbrach, als ich sein klatschnasses Fell mit dem Handtuch trocknete.” Ich weiß jetzt nicht, ob es daran liegt, dass ich mit jedem Jahr sentimentaler werde, aber ich habe so entzückt und tief geseufzt, als ich diesen Satz sah, diesen wunderschönen Satz. Ich habe mich gefragt, wie haben Sie diese Sprache gefunden?

Scrima: Das kann ich nicht beantworten. Man schreibt nicht mit einer Schreibstrategie im Hinterkopf. Ich glaube, es geht vielmehr darum, dass man versucht, den Zugang zu sich selbst möglichst intensiv zu ermöglichen. Und ich kann das selbst nicht unbedingt sagen, wie ich das gemacht habe. Das ist für jeden anders. Für jedes Buch ist es anders. Ich arbeite noch an einem Roman, der mir das Leben sehr schwer macht.

Scholl: Sprachlich kann ich mir das nicht vorstellen bei Ihnen, Frau Scrima. Vorhin sagten Sie kurz, dass Sie das Buch geschrieben haben, als Sie Ihr Baby gerade hatten. An einer Stelle, glaube ich, zieht das Baby unterm Tisch den Stecker aus dem Computer, und dann schreibt sie “Alles ist verloren”. Da dachte ich, ist das hoffentlich erfunden, oder war das so?

Scrima: Das ist sozusagen die Metapher für die Mutterschaft in den ersten paar Jahren. Wie das Kind einem immer einen Strich durch die Rechnung macht. Das ist in erster Linie auch als Metapher zu verstehen.

“A linear narrative is sacrificed in favor of a porous, associative composition that blurs dimensions through its mantra-like ‘but that came later.’ History becomes palpable as a background murmur. The reconstruction of the turbulent decade in which the narrator’s vagabond life takes place is achieved through newspaper clippings, which she appropriates artistically. What remains is an inquiry into the time-space continuum: to what degree is the artist today the person she encounters in the layers of her painting surfaces, her texts, the layers of her past? These are things Andrea Scrima writes about wonderfully in her autobiographically colored debut.”

— Senta Wagner, Buchkultur 177  2/2018

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