Musings on Exile, Immigrants, Pre-Unification Berlin, Trauma, Naturalization, and a Native Tongue

by Andrea Scrima I moved to Berlin in 1984, but have rarely written about my experiences living in a foreign country; now that I think about it, it occurs to me that I lived here as though in exile those first few years, or rather as though I’d been banished, as though it hadn’t been…

Laïcité and The Gap of Cultural Assimilation

By Andrea Scrima It’s said that European societies are always about assimilation, and that’s almost true, but not entirely. Minority cultures alter the dominant culture in subtle ways. My twenty-one-year-old son speaks with a Turkish-inflected accent he shares with most boys his age who have grown up in Berlin. It’s a mark of masculinity, of…

Excerpt from a Work-in-Progress, Part Two

by Andrea Scrima This past spring, I found myself sitting, masked, at a wooden desk among a scattering of scientific researchers at the Museo Galileo in Florence. Next to me was a thick reference book on the history of astronomical instruments and a smaller work on the sundials and other measuring devices built into the…

Against the Erasure of Dissent

A Conversation between Andrea Scrima and Anike Joyce Sadiq The following conversation took place from November 2021 to February 2022 via e-mail in reaction to a general meeting of the Villa Romana Association that took place on October 28, 2021 in Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. The authors participated in this meeting in their function as members, having…

Excerpt from a Work-in-progress

by Andrea Scrima March 1, 2022 I left Florence exactly two years ago, a week after the first Corona lockdowns went into effect on February 22, 2020; I returned to the city for the first time yesterday, just as Russian attacks on Ukraine shifted into full gear. Back in Berlin, the war felt suddenly very…

Decoding a Language, Part Two: An Interview with Andrea Scrima about Her New Novel “Like Lips, Like Skins”

by Andrea Scrima In her second novel Like Lips, Like Skins (German edition: Kreisläufe, Literaturverlag Droschl, 2021) Andrea Scrima unpacks a family story of strong emotional ties. When the first-person narrator Felice finds her deceased father’s diaries, she combs them for clues to a past riddled with blind spots. She abandons a drawing series because…

Decoding A Language: An Interview With Andrea Scrima About Her New Novel “Like Lips, Like Skins”

Like Lips, Like Skins, Andrea Scrima’s second novel (German edition: Kreisläufe, Literaturverlag Droschl 2021), is a diptych; the first half of the book is dedicated to the first-person narrator’s mother, the second half to her late father. We meet Felice in the early eighties as a young art student in New York and as a…

Lessons in Abstraction: The Strange Life of Europe’s Most Overlooked Modernist

by Andrea Scrima Clairvoyant of the Small, Susan Bernofsky’s long-awaited biography of the Swiss modernist writer Robert Walser, is erudite, painstakingly thorough, and sensitively written. Readers of Walser finally have a volume that connects the development of the writer’s work and its publishing history to the various episodes of his peripatetic adult life in the…

The Problem of Home in David Krippendorff’s “Nothing Escapes My Eyes”

by Andrea Scrima Oh patria mia, mai più ti rivedrò! Mai più! Mai più ti rivedrò! O cieli azzurri o dolci aure native Dove sereno il mio mattin brillò O verdi colli o profumate rive O patria mia, mai più ti rivedrò! (Oh my homeland, I will never see you again! No more! Never see…

Dubravka Ugrešić’s FOX

by Andrea Scrima “If the spirit of the fox enters a person, then that person’s tribe is accursed.” 1. In his 1953 essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” which postulates two quintessential moral dispositions at the heart of history’s main opposing ideologies, Isaiah Berlin divides the world’s influential writers into two categories of thought. Elaborating…

Enemy Combatant: An Interview with David Winner

by Andrea Scrima David Winner’s third novel, Enemy Combatant, has just been published by Outpost19 Books and has already received a starred Kirkus review. The book is an action-packed road trip gone horribly haywire, a misadventure mired in alcoholic debauchery and doomscrolling-induced moral indignation at the imperial arrogance of the Bush administration following 9/11. Sensitively…

(Re)reading Don DeLillo in Dark Times

by Andrea Scrima Adapted from a talk given on April 28, 2017 at the New School, New York City, as part of The Body Artist: A Conference on Don DeLillo. For some readers, Don DeLillo is a guy thing: an immensely gifted geek whose male characters are incapable of emotional communication; whose dialogue sounds more like…

Writing the Virus: A New Anthology

by Andrea Scrima An anthology I’ve edited with David Winner, titled Writing the Virus, has just been published by Outpost19 Books (San Francisco). Its authors—among them Joan Juliet Buck, Rebecca Chace, Edie Meidav, Caille Millner, Uche Nduka, Mui Poopoksakul, Roxana Robinson, Jon Roemer, Joseph Salvatore, Liesl Schillinger, Andrea Scrima, Clifford Thompson, Saskia Vogel, Matthew Vollmer, and…

On László Krasznahorkai’s “Seiobo There Below”

by Andrea Scrima The stories in Seiobo There Below, if they can be called stories, begin with a bird, a snow-white heron that stands motionless in the shallow waters of the Kamo River in Kyoto with the world whirling noisily around it. Like the center of a vortex, the eye in a storm of unceasing,…

On the Inimitable Lydia Davis

by Andrea Scrima In one sense, the stories of the collection Almost No Memory, originally published in 1997 and reprinted in The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis in 2009, can be read as a psychological portrait of a middle-aged woman coming to terms with all the usual things life has to offer after a certain age:…

Radical Admiration: A Conversation with Lydia Hamann and Kaj Osteroth

by Andrea Scrima Lydia Hamann and Kaj Osteroth have been working as a collaborative team since 2008. I got to know them in January and February of this year, when they began a year-long residency at the Villa Romana in Florence that was abruptly cut short in early March by the pandemic and the lockdown…

Context Collapse: A Conversation with Ryan Ruby

by Andrea Scrima Ryan Ruby is a novelist, translator, critic, and poet who lives, as I do, in Berlin. Back in the summer of 2018, I attended an event at TOP, an art space in Neukölln, where along with journalist Ben Mauk and translator Anne Posten, his colleagues at the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, he was…

Stalkerpooh: A Conversation with Simon Lee and Eve Sussman

by Andrea Scrima Eve Sussman and Simon Lee are visual artists who use a variety of media, ranging from photography and film to live performance. Some of their work experiments with narrative tropes in video, text, and the act of talking to other people on the phone or in the real world. Their joint projects include CollusionNoCollusion, created during a residency in St. Petersburg, Russia; No food…

Why on Earth Should It Mean That It Is Not Real?

A Conversation with Joan Giroux by Andrea Scrima Joan Giroux, born 1961 in Syracuse, New York, moved to the East Village in the early eighties to attend Parsons School of Design. After graduation, she began traveling back and forth between New York and Berlin, first as a guest student with Shinkichi Tajiri at the Hochschule…

Fiction in a World of Fear

by Andrea Scrima Tragedies like the mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and most recently (since this panel first aired last month) in Odessa bring everything to a stop. As we read the details and look at the pictures, we all pause, look around, and take stock of our priorities and what we hold dear.…