What We See: Joseph Roth and Our Berlin

Reading with Julia Bosson, Sanders Isaac Bernstein, Paul Scraton and Alexander Wells

(c) Lotte Altman

“Who in all the world comes to Berlin voluntarily?” Joseph Roth’s question in THE WANDERING JEW (1927) asks us to consider the routes we take to end up in Berlin. His suggestion that there is something that drives people here is not only true of the refugee Jews from Eastern Europe then, but also characterizes the timeless situation of migrants and expats in Germany’s capital. Today Roth might be best known for his novels of the Habsburg Empire like RADETSKY MARCH (1932) and HOTEL SAVOY (1924). However, it was in Berlin where, chronicling the city’s diversity, with special attention to the marginalized, that he became a feuilletonist.

In this evening, WHAT WE SEE: JOSEPH ROTH AND OUR BERLIN draws on the legacy of Joseph Roth to engage the Berlin as known today. The evening will feature a discussion about Roth, his life, and his feuilletons as well as readings of writing inspired by him. There will be a free-flowing conversation between the moderator and two Berlin-based writers who have been deeply influenced by the writer: Paul Scraton, author of GHOSTS ON THE SHORE: TRAVELS ALONG GERMANY’S BALTIC COAST (2017) and the novella IN THE PINES (2021) and Julia Bosson, who is working on a novel about Roth’s life and journalism. Then, moving beyond the discussion of Roth’s life and work, the evening will end with readings of short pieces – or taking a page out of Roth’s book, feuilletons – about contemporary Berlin from writers across the city.

If you would like to read at the event, please email your submission of 700-1000 words to josephrothtoday@gmail.com by February 24. All readings will also be published as part of a special series on JOSEPH ROTH AND OUR BERLIN at Elsewhere Journal.

(c) Levi Mandel

Julia Bosson is a writer originally from Ojai, California. Her work has appeared in publications such as BOMB, VICE, Guernica, and the Believer, among others. The recipient of grants from the Fulbright Program, DAAD, and the MFJC, she has been awarded fellowships and residencies from LABA Berlin, the Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center, Monson Arts, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and the Catwalk Institute. She currently teaches writing at the Cooper Union and resides in Berlin, Germany, where she is at work on a novel about the life and journalism of Joseph Roth.

(c) privat

Paul Scraton was born in the north of England and has lived in Berlin since 2002. He is the editor in chief of ELSEWHERE: A JOURNAL OF PLACE and the author of a number of books for Influx Press including GHOSTS ON THE SHORE: TRAVELS ALONG GERMANY’S BALTIC COAST (2017) and the novella of the forest IN THE PINES (2021). He has written for New Statesman, The Guardian, TLS, Literary Hub and hidden Europe magazineamong many others, and his next book explores the place of the forest in German cultural identity via a long walk in the Harz mountains, following in the footsteps of Heinrich Heine.

(c) privat

Sanders Isaac Bernstein, born in London, grew up in New Jersey (USA). His writing has appeared, among other places, in newyorker.com, Hypocrite Reader, and The Bad Version, which he founded and edited from 2011-2014. His work on Joseph Roth includes articles for Majuscule and Slow Travel Berlin. He holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Southern California.

(c) Mathilde Gauthier-Montpetit

Alexander Wells is a freelance writer and critic from Australia. His reviews and essays – including one on Joseph Roth’s urban miniatures – have been published by The Guardian, The Baffler, Words Without Borders, and the European Review of Books among others. He is currently Books Editor for the print monthly Exberliner.