Joint Reading of Alissa Walser and Katharina Hacker

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12 February 2018

Time: 6:30 - 8:30am
Venue: Arts One Lecture Theatre, Arts One Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus, Mile End Road, E1 4NS, London

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Joint Reading on Monday 12th February 2018

Our Writer-in-Residence, Alissa Walser, will read from her work, together with her colleague Katharina Hacker.

The reading will be in German and English. Everyone is welcome! Feel free to bring other interested parties.

Venue: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus, Arts One, Lecture Theatre (327 Mile End Road, London E1 4NS)

Alissa Walser works as a painter, as well as an author, and translator. Her writings include stage plays, novels and essays. Her painterly eye is acutely attuned to the situations of everyday life and she has a knack for condensing these into precise analytical phrases. Moreover, Walser often enriches her texts with her sketches and thus turns these writings into multimodal compositions.

She depicts relations between human beings and between the self and its physicality, while questioning the ability of language to convey mental processes. The coolly formulated delicate observations predominantly reflect the female gaze of her protagonists. One example is her latest prose text Eindeutiger Versuch einer Verführung,(Unequivocal attempt at Seduction) which consists of some 60 stories that are filled with hints, but remain vague in the end.

Her first novel Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik (mesmerized)concerned the celebrated Viennese doctor Franz Mesmer in the late 18th century and his patient Maria Theresia Paradis, a blind but highly skilled pianist.. In 2017 the film Licht produced by the Austrian director Barbara Albert rekindled interest in the story about the controversial doctor with his magnetism treatments and his patient who is torn between “an ordinary life in the light - or an extraordinary life as a pianist in darkness.”


After taking courses in Jewish Studies, Philosophy and history at the University of Freiburg, Katharina Hacker went on to pursue her studies in Jerusalem, and lived in Israel for 6 years, working as a teacher. Since 1997 she has been living as a freelance writer in Berlin.

Hacker’s first work was a tribute to the city of Tel Aviv. Her most recent novel, Skip marks a return to that city and the intellectual traditions associated with it. In the meanwhile Hacker has established herself as a Berlin novelist of the first rank, but also as one who is also able to breathe new life into myth on the one hand and the Dorfgeschichte, or village tale on the other, and who brings a particular sensitivity to her portrayal of Germany’s past.

Katharina Hacker became really well known when her novel Die Habenichtse (The Have-Nots) won the Deutscher Buchpreis in 2006. This novel has recently been filmed, and the London premiere is imminent. In awarding the prestigious award to her, the Jury of the German Book award praised her for having the courage to confront urgent themes and for the sensitive and persuasive way in which she treated them. This praise is echoed throughout reviews of her other works too, which together leave us in no doubt about Hacker’s pre-eminence as a stylist.

Katharina Hacker has also translated books from the Hebrew.