German writer Sudabeh Mohafez visits Leeds

Welcome German writer Sudabeh Mohafez, this year’s DAAD Writer in Residence at the University of Nottingham

Leeds welcomed German writer Sudabeh Mohafez on 3 March 2014 as part of the International Writers at Leeds series. Sudabeh was generously loaned to us by the University of Nottingham, where she was DAAD Writer in Residence from 24 February to 10 March, and special thanks are due to Anke Bohm and Dr Heike Bartel for enabling her visit.

Sudabeh authors the literary blog ‘zehn zeilen’ [‘ten lines’], for which she was awarded the 2008 Isla Volante Literature Prize, and a collection of her microfiction from the blog, das zehn-zeilen-buch [ten lines - the book], was published by the Dresden-based Azur in 2010.

Her expertise in microfiction fed into the writing workshop she led at Leeds, in which students of German were given the impetus to explore their creative writing skills. The students were led through a series of word-based brainstorming tasks before being given twenty minutes to produce their own 100-word pieces of fiction, and they then shared the twists and turns they had managed to squeeze out of such small spaces with the rest of the group.

Sudabeh followed the writing workshop with a bilingual public reading at the University, with English translations provided by Dr Kate Roy, and by participants in Nottingham’s 1 March translation workshop which had been centred on Sudabeh’s work. Taking her audience through the disturbing and beautiful ‘Wüstenhimmel, Sternenland’ [‘Desert Sky, Land of Stars’] from her 2004 collection by the same name, Sudabeh then treated us to blazing apartments and kissable firemen from the opening pages of her 2010 novel brennt [burning], an earlier draft of which had seen her nominated for the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2008. She rounded things off with a selection of miniatures from das zehn-zeilen-buch and with a spirited question and answer session with lively audience participation. We’re grateful to both Sudabeh and the audience for being so generous with their time.

The events in Leeds were organised by Dr Kate Roy from German Studies, with the generous contributions and interventions of Dr Helen Finch and Dr Richard Hibbitt from International Writers at Leeds, which enabled Sudabeh’s exciting reading. Thanks go to the Literary Studies Research Group, led by Prof. Ros Brown-Grant, and to German Studies, especially Prof. Stuart Taberner, for their support.