Stéphanie Lux was born in Thionville, France, in 1978. She studied German in Nancy, Strasbourg, and Leipzig. After two internships at the literary agency copywrite in Frankfurt am Main and the publishing house Actes Sud in Arles, she participated in the Goldschmidt Programme for young German-French literary translators in 2004, whereupon she signed her first translation contract and moved to Berlin. In 2006, she participated at the Sommerakademie and in 2007 and 2014 at the Internationale Übersetzertreffen at the LCB. In 2013 she also got invited to the German-French Übersetzerwerkstatt Vice-Versa in Arles. She returned to the city in 2015 with a residency grant from the Robert Bosch Stiftung. She lives as a literary translator in Berlin and also translates punk books, exhibition catalogues, and artist monographs (sometimes from English). Since 2013 she now and again occasionally works at the bookshop Anakoluth.
German is the second-most translated language into French (after English)—and vice versa. The two countries have a lively literary exchange. Close relationships between German and French publishing houses and editors have developed over years, and many German editors speak perfect French (which is sadly seldom the case in reverse). In addition, many programs and workshops encourage exchange between publishers, booksellers, and translators. Several French authors and translators also live here to enjoy a certain Berlin dolce vita: the German capital is still much more laid-back than Paris.
I first visited Zadig in 2004, as part of the Goldschmidt program. The bookstore, owned by Patrick Suel, opened in September 2003 on Linienstraße, in the heart of Mitte. In keeping with Berlin’s multi-cultural flavor, Zadig reflects the great diversity of French literature. The offerings include a wealth of new releases, as well as a solid base of classics. There is also a particular focus on French-German themes. Zadig organizes regular readings and events with authors and people from the publishing industry.
2. Modern Graphics
One of Modern Graphics’ two branches in Berlin is located on Kastanienallee. The large selection of comics and graphic novels in French or translated from French (with favorite authors such as Guy Delisle, Catherine Meurisse, and Lupano & Cauuet well-represented) makes a peek in on the way home from school with my daughter hard to resist.
Rosenthaler Straße 39
The bookstore/gallery Neurotitan in the unrenovated Haus Schwarzenberg, next to the Hakesche Höfe, has become something of a tourist attraction. The comic artist and publisher Alex Chauvel, who co-founded éditions Polystyrène, also sometimes works in this well-organized shop specializing in comics and graphic novels (in German, as well as English and French). And if you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon one of the posters he designs himself and decide to take it home with you (the most recent: Toutes les mers par temps calme, Polystyrène, 2016).
4. Mundo Azul
This bookstore specializes in illustrated books for children and special book projects from all over the world, and is a meeting point for international artists, illustrators, collectors, and anyone interested in alternative, contemporary children’s literature. Every time I come here I stumble upon unusual French books for children and young adults. The haiku fairytale book I most recently purchased proved a popular present. (Il était une fois: contes en haiku by Agnès Domergue and Cécile Hudrisier, éditions Thierry Magnier).
Not all of us can read French literature in the original. This small, independent bookstore founded 18 years ago by Christiane Hahn offers a large selection of French literature in German translation (novels, essays, poetry, travel writing, comics, children’s- and young adult literature). With this resource, one can always recommend one’s favorite translated French authors to Berlin friends. For the past four years, I’ve also helped out the fantastic bookselling team during the Christmas rush.
la mer gelée
c/o Aurélie Maurin
Korsörer Str. 8II
6. la mer gelée
This German-French magazine of art and literature, edited by Alban Lefranc and Aurélie Maurin and published by Verlag Le Nouvel Attila, is produced in a shared office on quiet Korsörerstraße, just behind Mauerpark. la mer gelée offers unpublished texts by well-known authors, as well as new literary discoveries. The magazine was the first to publish texts by Monika Rinck, Elke Erb, Ann Cotton, and Andreas Veiel in French translation—and also premiered authors like Christian Pringent, Serge Pey, and Noémie Lefevbre in German. The eighth issue (Maman) came out this fall. Thanks to la mer gelée, I recently discovered the French-Canadian author Hervé Bouchard. A must-read!
Institut français mit dem Bureau du Livre de l’Ambassade de France à Berlin Kurfürstendamm 211
7. Institut français mit dem Bureau du Livre de l’Ambassade de France à Berlin
The French media center at the Institut Français can be a good cure for homesickness: any classic piece of literature or children’s book that one has the urge to (re)read can be found here; for popular new releases—French films in particular—a reservation is advisable.
In cooperation with the French embassy’s Bureau du Livre, the Institut provides space for readings with French-language authors, as well as events for translators and the publishing industry (most recently: the Nuit de la traduction).
8. Literarisches Colloquium Berlin
The LCB is a special place for me: in 2004 I took part in the Georges-Arthur-Goldschmidt program for young German-French translators and spent three wonderful workshop weeks there—which led to my first translation contract with Gallimard. Every three years the LCB hosts the German-French translation workshop ViceVersa, aimed at advanced translators. Among many other things, the LCB organizes events with French and Francophone authors such as Jayrôme C. Robinet, a writer, poetry-performer, and translator who writes and performs in both French and German (his blog: www.jayrome-c-robinet.com).
9. Deutsch-französischer Übersetzerstammtisch
Caroline Gutberlet’s idyllic office on quiet Husemannstraße in Prenzlauer Berg was long home to the Stammtisch for German-French translators. It’s now become nomadic, hosted by various translators or, not infrequently, by the literature house Lettrétage in Kreuzberg. At the Stammtisch, participants’ current projects are discussed and workshopped (followed by food and drink).
10. ÜbersetzungsAtelier Cantianstraße
The French translator Alexandre Pateau shares this office with German literary colleagues. Pateau and Sven Wachowiak—both 2014 participants in the Goldschmidt program—gave the Leipzig hero of Clemens Meyer’s Als wir träumten a voice in French.
Alexandre Pateau has translated Rainer Maria Rilke, Peter Bichsel, Carolin Emcke, Jan Wagner, and Daniel Schreiber into French, and won the 2015 poetry prize of the Union des traducteurs et non-traducteurs de Villié-Morgon for his translation of Brecht’s Ballade von den Abenteurern.
11. Übersetzungsatelier Schönhauser Allee
Isabelle Liber works on her translations into the French—of works by Bertolt Brecht, Alina Bronsky, Giulia Enders, Elke Heidenreich, Nina Jäckle, Karen Köhler, Gila Lustiger, Galsan Tschinag, and David Wagner, among others—in a former school building in Mitte. As my predecessor interning in the editorial department for German literature at Actes Sud (many years ago), who then went on to translate for that renowned independent press, Isabelle set a professional example for me.
12. Restaurant im Podewil
Countless translations by the duo Frank Sievers + Andreas Jandl came to be in this restaurant in Mitte. If you go Thursday around midday, you’re likely to run into them, in fact (they’ll be the ones at the table covered in books and papers…).
Together the two have translated several novels by the French-Canadian author Gaétan Soucy (along with many texts on the natural sciences).
Frank Siever has also translated Laurent Gaudé, Thierry Lentz, Bernard Lions, Fréderic Malle, Philippe Margotin, and Jean-Michel Guesdon, among others; Andreas Jandls’ translations include works by Pascal Brullemans, Daniel Danis, Nicolas Dickner, Nicolas Langelier, and Scholastique Mukasonga.
13. La Ménagerie im ACUD
The lovingly renovated yet authentic art house ACUD in Mitte is an event space, cinema, bar, and also one of the homes of the French-language theater troupe La Ménagerie, whom I discovered thanks to their wonderful pedagogical work in schools. Once a week, ACUD is home to an improvisational theatre evening, and once a year to a theater festival organized by Ménagerie, where professional and amateur actors stage French texts in the original. (The troupe’s other stages include Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Kreuzberg).