The international literature festival berlin

The 20th international literature festival berlin will take place from September 9 to 19, 2020.

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. 


The “Specials” section features ilb projects and events on special topics. This year there is a series of events devoted to the topic "Visons of Bioeconomy", organised in cooperations with the Science Year 2020/ 21, as well as the 10. “Graphic Novel Day”.


This year, for the first time, digital events will be staged. There will be pre-recorded talks with authors, who cannot be present in Berlin, there will be events, in which the author participates remotely, and selected events of the festival will be streamed live. The links to the streams will be placed on the event page before the stream will start and listed here.


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. Since 2006 the ilb calls for "Worldwide Readings" and for "Worldwide Screenings" since 2019, beginning with "Shoah" by Claude Lanzmann in January 2020 and with a call for December 12 2020 for "I'm not Your Negro" by Raoul Peck. In 2009 the ilb initiated an association of 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.