Earlier this month, I was very happy to spend two days at the Frankfurt Book Fair, promoting the German edition of my book and impressing the German media with my air of misery and depression. I am told that the following headline, from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Feuilleton, alludes to the terrible time I was having (full text up here):
The photo caption, according to Google Translate: “Elif Batuman, just before the bad mood was.”
I do remember being puzzled by that interview, since the interviewer didn’t actually ask any questions; he mostly just wanted to discuss his theory that the attendees of the Frankfurt Book Fair are possessed by literature. Historically, of course, it is a very thin line separating the possessed from the grouchy.
Invisibly to the naked eye, I was actually having a very decent time in Frankfurt! – I have particularly fond memories of the afternoon when a publicist bought me a giant paper cone full of fish and chips (thank you, Katinka!), and then Kurt Vonnegut’s German translator sat next to me and we had a nice chat about STDs.
Later I headed to Zurich, home city of my super-cool publishers, where I spent a lovely evening at the Theatre Neumarkt discussing my work with not one but two incredibly smart German-speaking comparativists: Daniel Binswanger and Jan Kueveler, the latter of whom was an instrumental figure in getting me a banana at the Bananagate incident of 2008, so you can imagine how happy I was to see him again. We were all seated in armchairs in front of a giant sign that said “Elif Batuman: Indiana Jones der Literatur.” I later mentioned this sign to a respected editor, who replied: “I have always thought of you more as a Darth Vader der Literatur.” In fact, I had caught a terrible cold in Frankfurt, and sounded almost exactly like Darth Vader. Huge thanks to Susanne von Ledebur for the tissues, and Julia Strack for the throat drops!