Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Good German Lit-Blog? Litaffin

For some time now, I've been looking for good blogs about books, written in German. "Good" is a rather vague term, so here's what I want:

Regular postings
More than just links
Sense of humour
Not just genre fiction

And I've never been able to find one. There are commercial sites that make my toes curl, there are bloggers who write great reviews once a fortnight, there are some great link compilers who do little else, there are a good few writers doing interesting stuff online, there's online radio and video giving us decent literary content, there are some lovely personal blogs that touch on the literary fairly often. But nothing that really gets the blood pumping in my veins, I'm afraid.

I've never been quite sure why that is. There are so many literature-crazed bloggers in the UK and the US writing fantastic stuff on a regular basis that it doesn't make sense for there to be no similar culture here. For a while I thought the Germans might not be willing to invest so much time and energy for few direct rewards other than the odd free book and fooling people into thinking you're an expert. But then I remembered all the amazing literary events and magazines they have here, none of which (I assume) make anyone rich. So I just went on puzzling away.

But now there actually is a blog that meets a number of my strict stipulations. It's called litaffin and it's run by students at the FU Berlin. They're doing an MA in "applied literature" that I also considered signing up for until I realised I couldn't actually afford not to work for two years and have taught myself most of the stuff they do anyway. And - pardon my cynicism - it would appear that getting a grade is good for German bloggers.

Because there's loads of stuff up there already and they've only been going since 1 January. It's a great mix of reviews and opinion, places to go in Berlin, reports on events - hey, it's almost like love german books! Only there are various different contributors, so you get a broader range of opinion and possibly less of the ranting on obscure subjects. Some of the contributors would do better to give their full names - calling oneself "Betty P." or the like just comes across as cowardly and overly amateurish. Not that I object to amateurism in blogging per se.

They've also made themselves some great enemies. A fairly superficial piece slagging off "young literary magazines" garnered a whole 20 angry comments, mainly from editors of young literary magazines. Now that's what I call great literary blogging. All they have to do now is keep up the momentum.


waterkant said...

I am probably carrying coals to Newcastle because you already know this site: http://common-reader.de

kjd said...

I do indeed, and I like it - but it doesn't press all the above buttons.

waterkant said...

Yes, that's what I thought as well while reading your criteria, but I decided to mention it anyway :)

fabooks said...

Well I am an academic publisher and would like to publish more translations, but not fiction.

My knowledge of Deutsch is rudimentary so it is a struggle hunting in bookshops and the usual suspect websites. Really I need a partnership with someone, not necessarily from a publishing background who has a good 'nose'

And I want to have fun doing this!

Who can help me?


Anonymous said...

I thought you might be interested in The Berlin Review of Books, berlinbooks.org , which is modelled after the LRB/NYRB format of literary reviews (though obviously it is less comprehensive...)

ksklein said...

I enjoy reading my husband´s blog though I wouldn´t say that it gets the blood pumping in my veins. :)
I like your blog by the way too, which I discovered today via facebook.

kjd said...

Oooh, I must read his book by the way.

ksklein said...

I wasn´t sure whether I should post a link to my husband´s blog, as most of thecurrent posts are about his new book. There has been a lot of stuff going on at the moment.

But usually he writes about a lot of other authors and books and divers subjects he enjoys. And those are the posts I specially enjoy.

By the way, I enjoyed reading your thoughts about Axolotl Roadkill. All the reviews and news in the German press didn´t really spark my interest. I´m still not sure whether I´m going to read the book, but after your reviews I might.

kjd said...

Ah, that's what I like to hear.

woodendress said...

Hello! I came across your blog in my search for recommendations of German books. I haven't had a chance to read through all your entries, but I was wondering if you could recommend any German books that are fairly easy to read for an English speaker and possibly over the topic of Germany/Berlin. Thanks!

Aurana Books said...

I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.