To visit in Berlin’s African bookstore


Since December there is the first bookstore for African literature in Berlin. A visit to the small African microcosm, the German readers, a world not to open up, you often know yet.

Karla Kutzner (left) and Stefanie Hirsbrunner founded the bookstore

The classics stand up to the right. Nelson Mandela’s “letters from prison”, in addition, a biography of the Nobel prize laureate Denis Mukwege. Your favorite corner is actually somewhere else, says Karla Kutzer and shows on the shelf. Books by authors that are still unknown: Yemise Aribisala, for example, award-winning young writer from Nigeria. “Our feminist corner,” says Kutzner and laughs.

In mid-December of 2018, she has opened with her business partner Stefanie Hirsbrunner the small bookstore in the trendy district of Friedrichshain, officially. The first for African literature in Berlin, as the founder, insure the inside. From the outside not more than a nondescript small shop, squeezed in between Restaurants, a Kiosk and a medical practice. Inside, nearly 20 square meters of books from all corners of Africa.

Besides the classics, many African books in Germany are hardly known

“We hope that African literature is finally seen as what it is: the world literature,” says Kutzner, “the authors will be perceived to be living anywhere in the world and write stories – stories that we do not know, but also stories with which we have something in common.” About 1000 titles are in the offer, not only from Africa. Even writers with African roots are, for example, Michelle Obama with her memoirs. In addition, there are books on topics that keep both owners for Africa-relevant: racism, Integration, or feminism.

“Exciting Shop”

Outside, the rain from the dark Berlin winter sky patters, but Olaf Pfeifer has fought through the bad weather to the bookstore. “I’m looking for a gift for my girlfriend” he says and looks to the two novels in his Hand. Over his shoulder, a burlap bag of a Berlin dangles Large bookstore, but today, he came aware of here. “The Store was I noticed earlier as a cross between a bookstore and a literary Agency. I thought that was interesting.”

With Africa, nothing connects the 49-Year-olds. However, the bookstore should also appeal to just people to connect with Africa-only wars and disasters – and help to change these views. “Our dream is that in Germany, a more normal image of our neighbouring continent, as it has elsewhere been the case,” says Kutzner.

The author readings will take place in the bookstore

The goal she had in life – as Co-owner Hirsbrunner – in your former profession. Both studied political science and then in the policy worked – with a focus on Africa. “We have noticed that the policy will be set up a lot of walls you can’t tear down, unfortunately,” says Kutzner. Among the many people who met you at this time know, were African writer, the most exciting votes. In 2017, the two inter-continental, a literary Agency founded. In 2018 they will host the first African literature festival of Berlin, with over 40 writers and poets from Africa.

African books are hard to get

Contacts from this period are now to help. So far, the books are on the shelves in German, English and French. But only a fraction of African literature has been translated to German. To order books from the USA or France, is not a Problem. It is difficult but in the case of authors who are not published by large international publishers. “We have just had Niq Mhlongo from South Africa to a guest who had a huge bag with his books. This is a simpler distribution than the books about three detours on three ships to Germany.” Soon to be by these methods, there are also books in African languages.

A customer, who introduces herself only as Dominique, but would like to buy a book voucher for her daughter. She has seen in the local television report on the bookstore. “As a range we had in Berlin so far,” she says, while her gaze to the bookshelves moves along. Her father came from Cameroon, Dominique describes herself as a normal DDR-child. Your son is equal to come. “For me, it’s nice to see that there are so many books of African and Afro-German authors. Otherwise, you can see the maximum in libraries, but here in a book store – this is a piece of satisfaction.”