One is a CROWD – Roland Reichen

Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them three questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist in Bern looks like, meet Roland Reichen! 

 “To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” ( Roland Barthes) – Do you see yourself as an author and do you agree with this?

I agree with Barthes. I see myself as an author, but I understand the author as an entity, who creates new forms and contents solely by combining words, techniques, stories and ideas already given.

In my case: My latest novel “Sundergrund” tells the story of a drug addict. Before and during writing, I talked to a lot of addicted people, I listened to their stories. With their permission, I tried to melt some of these stories into a fictional biography. Inspired by Austrian writers like Elfriede Jelinek or Werner Schwab and Swiss 19th century writer Jeremias Gotthelf, I wrote in a language that mixes High German and dialect. I chose this ‘faulty’ language as an expression that something is amiss in the way society deals with drug addiction.

Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if, how?

When reading, I use my own imagination to specify undetermined elements of a text. For example: How does a certain character look like exactly? When writing, one of my main questions is: How detailed do I have to describe a particular character or place? How much may I leave undetermined?

What is your favorite literary spot in…? (literary venue, bar, meeting spot etc.) Please give us a link to the website of the spot

The “Café Kairo” is my favorite literary spot in Bern. It’s just around the corner of my house. The astonishing writer, singer, actor and filmmaker Matto Kämpf organizes the literary events of the “Café Kairo”. You have to taste the famous “Hamburgerteller”, mjam!


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