University of Mannheim: Kick-off for the “Mannheim reads a book” campaign

After the campaign “A city reads a book” has already proven itself in several German cities, it will also take place in Mannheim for the first time in 2022: Under the motto “Mannheim reads a book”, the University of Mannheim is organizing it together with the national theater and the city library and the Old Fire Station as well as several schools, clubs and initiatives, a series of events from October 2022 to January 2023. The Mayor of Mannheim, Dr. Peter Kurz takes over the patronage. The idea for the campaign came from Prof. Dr. Thomas Wortmann, Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Mannheim, his colleague Dr. Sandra Beck, research associate at the Department of German Philology, and the author Elisa Diallo, who regularly teaches courses at the university.

The concept of the campaign envisages that a jury selects a “Book of the City” each year – a book available in a cheap edition that deals with topics that concern society in general and the citizens of the city in particular. These can be ecological issues, for example, but also social or economic challenges. At various events such as readings or discussion rounds, all interested parties are then invited to exchange ideas about the book. “Mannheim’s German department has been working with various institutions in the city for a long time. With this project, we can continue existing collaborations and show the relevance of literature and literary studies for our society,” says Wortmann, explaining the large-scale collaboration.

The Mannheim jury selected Karosh Taha’s 2018 novel “Description of a Crab Migration” as the first “Book of the City”. In it, Taha tells the story of 22-year-old Sanaa Kevjala, whose family migrated from Iraq to Germany. She is torn between the desire to escape the confinement of the Kurdish community and the high-rise district, and the bond with and responsibility for her family, which is traumatized by the experiences of war and flight. “The novel deals with current social issues such as war, flight and migration and at the same time deals with topics such as sexuality and violence in a provocative way. This mixture of relevance in terms of content and aesthetic design convinced us that Taha’s novel is a suitable ‘book of the city’,” says Beck.

The series of events kicks off on October 12 in the castle
. All interested citizens are invited to engage with Taha’s novel with immediate effect. Under the hashtag #loslesen, they can share their reading experiences on social networks. The start of the event series “Mannheim reads a book” will then take place on October 12 from 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the University of Mannheim. Author Karosh Taha will read from her book; followed by a panel discussion. The event is free of charge and probably no registration is necessary. A total of more than 25 events are being planned. In addition, the Mannheimer Germanistik offers in the coming autumn /Winter semester offers a main seminar on the texts of Karosh Taha. “Mannheim reads a book 2022” is organized in cooperation with the city’s cultural office, the kick-off event is funded by the German Literature Fund. Other cooperation partners and sponsors are the alumni association ABSOLVENTUM MANNHEIM eV and the Otto Mann Foundation.