Thanks to NetGalley and to I.B.Tauris for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily choose to review.
This is a book that does what it says on the tin, and much more. The authors share a great wealth of research that they divide by neighbourhoods, not only of the writers born in Berlin but also of those who emigrated to the city or visited and produced some significant piece of work inspired by their stay or travels. Providing a detailed historical background into the birth and development of the city, it also describes the most important buildings in each area, and their significance to culture, be it official culture or underground and resistance.
The book contains brief biographies of the authors it discusses, from the Grimm Brothers, Mark Twain, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, to writers published within the last five years. It illustrates the city with quotes and extracts from a variety of works, from poems, songs, novels… I’ve personally discovered fascinating stories of parks housing suicidal literary lovers, of breweries that became hubbubs of culture and neighbourhood life through the centuries, of resistance on both sides of the wall, of writers who continued to create no matter how dire their circumstances, of heroics and controversies, and of a city that has suffered and endured as much as its citizens. Destroyed and rebuilt, fragmented and reunited, it has provided fertile ground for literature and artistic creation through its history and this guide offers the reader a taster that is sure to encourage further exploration.
I haven’t visited Berlin personally, but I finished the book with an urgency to go, and with the feeling that anybody who visits Berlin taking this guide with them will see it through a myriad of perspectives and live an unforgettable experience.
I hope to read more of these literary guides and to be able to take them with me on future trips. Highly recommended to lovers of travel and literature alike.