Everything about the 19th international literature festival berlin

The 19th international literature festival berlin will take place from September 11 to 21, 2019.

The aim of the international literature festival berlin (ilb for short) is not only declared by its name. In the scope of the festival, every September the ilb serves as a platform to present contemporary developments in prose, poetry, non-fiction, graphic novels, and children’s and young adult literature from all around the world; here, we debate exceptionally current political topics and academic discourse and actively promote reading and teaching literature.

With the goal of reaching as broad an audience as possible and including them in the festival in many ways, readings, discussion panels, encounters, and workshops take place over eleven days in Berlin. The festival offers people in Berlin and the surrounding region the extraordinary chance to get intensive access to the worldwide literary scene in all its diverse forms, temperaments, and styles. During the festival, the capital transforms into a center and platform for international literature to resonate. The international literature festival berlin is committed to human rights, a cosmopolitan outlook, multiple perspectives, dialogue, and hospitality.

Among the guests of the past editions of the festival are: Leila Aboulela (Sudan/ UK), Svetlana Alexievich (Ukraine/ Belarus), Isabel Allende (Chile), Assia Djebar (Algeria), Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco/ France), John M. Coetzee (South Africa/ Australia), John Green (USA), David Grossman (Israel), Daniel Kehlmann (Germany), Judith Kerr (Germany/ UK), Judith Hermann (Germany), Robert Menasse (Austria), Michael Ondaatje (Canada), Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), Yasmina Reza (Iran/ France), Arundhati Roy (India), Salman Rushdie (India/ USA), Elif Shafak (Turkey/ UK), Charles Simic (Serbia/ USA), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru/ Spain), Irvine Welsh (UK).


Literatures of the World
This section showcases renowned and up-and-coming authors of prose and poetry, often featuring a work’s premiere reading. The authors read in the original language, and then actors read from the German translation. Every reading ends with a moderated discussion. At select events, the discussions with authors take place in English. The audience can encounter stars of the literature scene and the big names of tomorrow – also at the after-show book signings.


In the section “Reflections”, authors, journalists, academics, and politicians discuss and debate current societal and political questions.

International Children’s and Young Adult Literature

The International Children’s and Young Adult Literature section offers a broad array of readings and events both in and outside of schools and aims to be a comprehensive initiative to promote reading and intercultural competence. You can read more here

Memory, Speak

This retrospective section pays tribute to well-known or forgotten authors from decades and centuries past.

Science and the Humanities

This section is dedicated to the newest scientific research and reflects on socially relevant debates. 
As part of the Science Year 2019 – Artificial Intelligence, a series of events within this year’s section will be devoted to the topic “Automatic Writing 2.0.”


The “Specials” section features ilb projects and events on special topics. These include “New German Voices”, an evening showcasing up-and-coming authors in the German literary scene, and the “Graphic Novel Day”.


Ever since the first ilb in 2001, the Peter-Weiss-Stiftung für Kunst und Politik e.V. has sponsored the international literature festival berlin, which has gone on to become one of the best-known literature festivals in the world. Ulrich Schreiber brought the ilb to life to provide a platform for literature in Germany’s capital – where similar forums for film, music, theater and art already existed – in the condensed form of a festival.
The ilb has organized “Worldwide Readings” since 2006. In 2009 we initiated an association of eight literature festivals of international significance – the Word Alliance. These include Edinburgh International Book Festival; Jaipur Literature Festival; Melbourne Writers Festival; PEN World Voices Festival, New York; The Bookworm International Literary Festival, Peking; Étonnants Voyageurs, Saint-Malo; Authors at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto.