Book Launch 21.01.2020 19:00
With John Freeman and guests Ryan Ruby, Rebecca Rukeyser, Saskia Vogel and Geoffrey Mak
entrance Plantagenstraße 31 13347 Berlin
tickets 8€ (regular) 5€ (reduced) 15€ (combi with book)
From immigration rights to climate change, California has been ground zero for the most crucial questions of our time. Featuring work from Tommy Orange, Rabih Alameddine, Rachel Kushner, Mai Der Vang, Reyna Grande, and more, the sixth Freeman’s brilliantly showcases some of the world’s best writers grappling with the myths and reality of California today.
On the occasion of the sixth edition of this groundbreaking literary journal, we gather with John Freeman and Californian writers currently based in Berlin to ponder on how to write about a place of myth. How does the West in the US and in particular California live between old (rather broken) myths and new ones it is making. When writing around these myths of yore, how to take all the many things into account – the state's vast geography, its multifarious history, its demographics today, its issues of land, water, air, and the existence amidst calamity and the daily confrontation with climate change. What role does utopianism play in such navigation?
GeoffREY Mak was born and raised in Diamond Bar, California. His writing has appeared in Artforum, Art in America, and Spike. In the past, he was the founding fiction editor of The Offing. His work with Armen Avenessian was featured in the 2016 Berlin Biennale. He is currently an editor at Highsnobiety, and New Models.
Ryan Ruby is the author of The Zero and the One: A Novel (Twelve Books, 2017) and a translator from the French. His fiction and criticism have appeared in Conjunctions, Dissent, n+1 , and The Paris Review Daily among other venues. He is the recipient of the 2019 Albert Einstein Fellowship from the Einstein Forum in Potsdam. Formerly a Professor of History and Philosophy at York College, CUNY and an Affiliated Follow of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, he lives in Berlin.
Rebecca Rukeyser is a fiction writer and the recipient of a 2018 Grant for Non-German Literature, awarded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf. She is a member of the guest faculty at Bard College Berlin, where she teaches fiction writing. Her stories have appeared in such publications as ZYZZYVA, The Massachusetts Review, and Best American NonRequired Reading. Her debut novel is forthcoming from Granta Books.
Saskia Vogel was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in its sister city, Berlin, where she works as a writer, screenwriter, copywriter, and translator from Swedish and German into English. Her debut novel Permission was published in four languages in 2019 and will be available in German in 2020. It has been optioned for television. Previously she worked as Granta magazine’s global publicist and as an editor at the AVN Media Network. She volunteers as the Honorary Secretary of SELTA and as part of the team that organizes Viva Erotica, an annual film festival in Helsinki that explores the art, history, and culture of sex on film.
John Freeman is the editor of the literary journal Freeman’s. Until 2013, he was the editor of Granta. His books include How to Read a Novelist, Tales of Two Cities, Tales of Two Americas, Dictionary of the Undoing, and Maps – his debut collection of poems. He is executive editor at the Literary Hub and teaches at the New School and New York University. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the Paris Review and has been translated into twenty languages.
Freeman’s: California appeared in 2019 with some of the best writing on California:
In a bravura essay, Rabih Alamdeddine remembers bartending during the worst years of the AIDS crisis. William T. Vollmann visits the Carr fire and discovers that gas masks are the new normal. Natalie Diaz describes growing up in the desert and remaking her body on the basketball court. Award-winning journalist Lauren Markham revisits her family’s tales of their arrival in a town built by a con man on stolen land. Karen Tei Yamashita tells of a Japanese-American man going to Hiroshima after the bomb dropped, writing letters home. Reyna Grande witnesses her mother never adapting after migrating from Mexico. Tommy Orange conjures a native man so lost and broke he’s either going to rob a bank or end his life—but love might rescue him. Rachel Kushner sings a hymn to the danger and beauty of cars. And since the Beat movement, California has also given birth to an explosion of poetry. New poems by Frank Bidart, Robin Coste Lewis, D.A. Powell, and recent poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera join newcomers Mai Der Vang and Javier Zamora in this investigation and celebration of California writing. Featuring new work from Héctor Tobar and Jennifer Egan, Oscar Villalon and Anthony Marra, Geoff Dyer and Elaine Castillo, Freeman’s: California will become a benchmark for California anthologies before and to come.
“Assimilation, or rejection of that notion, is a running theme throughout Freeman’s: California, whether to the demands of California’s wild or the dominant capitalist culture... Work by Lauren Markham, Robin Coste Lewis, Héctor Tobar, Jennifer Egan, Oscar Villalon, and Rachel Kushner elevates it to a necessary piece in a literary California collection.”—Los Angeles Times
“The work is wide-ranging, by newcomers and established talents... It tells the story of California in pieces, which is the only way it can be told . . . The point—or one of them—is that, in California, one must learn to persevere. In this collection, California in all its glorious complexity comes vividly to life.”—Kirkus Reviews