Portrait Deniz Ohde
Photo: Esra Rotthoff

»In the forty years of my life, there has never been a global experience like Covid. And, in the middle of it all, this outgoing U.S. President who acts like a stubborn toddler.«

The Maxim Gorki Theatre is adapting your novel into a play. Are you involved in the process?
No. I’m not a playwright, so I’m happy to leave it to the professionals. Nurkan Erpulat is working on it and I don’t have anything to do with the stage adaptation at all. Dialogue is rather scarce in the book. From my perspective, Streulicht (Sky Glow) lives on its descriptions. How will the atmosphere, the real subject of the book, come across on stage? I’m keen to find out.
One of the book’s strengths is how the sensory experiences are conveyed, for example, the scent of the industrial landscape described.
I hope that the audience isn’t attacked with the stench of a sewage treatment plant. But I’m also interested in how the relationship between daughter and father will be presented. Because it’s all about the fact that they don’t talk to each other. That’s also what leads to the narrator’s difficulties, and she’s incapable of talking to other people about her difficulties. She doesn’t talk about the conflicts. They’re relayed in a gap between the narrator and the world. I wonder how the silence will be staged.
The narrator returns to the place she grew up. Her father worked in this industrial landscape. She escaped to university. Now she’s here again.
She isn’t happy. She doesn’t belong in her new milieu now. But back then she already didn’t belong in the world of her youth. For example, she was driven out of the carnival association. She found that process particularly mortifying because she was excluded even from the activities that she despised.
Are experiences like that par for the course if one wants to be a writer?
No idea. My narrator is shaped that way. Melancholy is part of that, as well as nostalgia. There’s this desire to see the beautiful in the ugly. No one stands in front of this industrial landscape and says: wonderful. But she likes it. She tries to reveal its beauty. So she endows her description with almost kitschy symbols: a full moon behind the smokestacks.

Interview: Arno Widmann


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