Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life imitates art, kind of

Next week I'll be taking a break from drafting the new book for a trip to Germany. I shall be travelling to the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, following an invitation from the Ex-Berliner magazine. Berlin is, of course, where most of the action in The Einstein Girl unfolds. I'll be doing a reading and answering questions (assuming some get asked…) at the St George’s English language book shop on Wörtherstrasse, which, I am told, is something of an institution among English-speaking ex-pats in the German capital.
This is where things become quite coincidental: for it is on Wörtherstrasse – about a hundred yards from the modern day shop – that the ‘Einstein girl’ herself actually takes a room when she first arrives in Berlin, and where a lot of important events in the novel take place.
I once stayed on the nearby Schönhauser Allee – in what was the old East Berlin Reuters apartment (following in the footsteps of Timothy Garton Ash and various cold war writers). A good few of the buildings roundabout still sported bullet holes in those days, and the years of GDR neglect were still much in evidence. Subsequently, in The Einstein Girl, I had my protagonist (Martin Kirsch) lodge on that street. But it’s been more than a decade since I was there. It will be interesting, and possibly spooky, retracing the steps of these characters - steps that only ever took place in my head, but which feel almost as genuine as actual memories. I suspect that with the vast amount of renovation and refurbishment that’s been going on, much of the area will be hard to recognise. But that's Berlin for you: so much changes, and so much stays the same.
If anyone is in the German capital next Wesnesday 31st and is interested in attending the Ex-Berliner event, here are the details. It starts at 9pm and everyone is extremely welcome:
Saint George’s Bookshop
Wörther Straße 27
10405 BerlinTel: (0)30 81798333