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Posts tagged ‘Iain Sinclair’

BBC’s “A German Genius in Britain”


BBC producer Jessica Treen kindly let me listen to a preview of the upcoming BBC Radio 4 broadcast of “A German Genius in Britain.” It will be broadcast on May 29 at 11:30 (London time). After that, it will be available for one week on the BBC iPlayer. It should then be available for a full year on the BBC 4 website. The piece is thoroughly entertaining and manages to pack quite a lot about Sebald’s books and themes into a short 30-minute program. Sebald himself is heard, reading German and talking in English with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt.

Iain Sinclair, who could make a claim to being the David Attenborough of the literary scene, plays host, taking on the role of “psychic detective” and traveling to several Sebald-laden locations. He begins in Manchester, where he meets up with writer and novelist Nicholas Royle to briefly discuss Sebald’s experience there and how he used the city in The Emigrants. Then Sinclair is off to Norwich to meet Sebald’s colleague Jo Catling, who talks, among other things, about Sebald’s transition from academic to writer and the book On the Natural History of Destruction. The two visit Sebald’s grave near his home in Poringland. This is followed by a discussion with Marina Warner, mostly about Austerlitz, which becomes the primary topic for the entire second half of the broadcast. Sinclair returns to London to join poet Stephen Watts for visits to Tower Hamlets Cemetery and the Ashkenazi section of the Alderney Road Cemetery, both of which play a key role in Austerlitz. The broadcast ends with Watts reading the final two stanzas of his poem “For My Friend Max Sebald,” which may be read in its entirety here.

Iain Sinclair Visits Sebald’s Britain


BBC Radio 4 is airing a 30-minute program on Thursday May 29 at 11:30 (London time). Fingers crossed, it will show up on the BBC’s online iPlayer before too long.

Here is the brief blurb from the BBC’s website:

A German Genius in Britain

Born in Bavaria in 1944, W.G Sebald moved to England in 1966, where he worked first at the University of Manchester, and then at the newly established University of East Anglia. Sebald began publishing relatively late in life, and was still developing his unique literary style at the time of his death in a road accident in 2001. His work combines fiction, memoir, history and travelogue, the prose is studded with black and white photographs, presented caption-free, to often haunting effect. Sebald’s work is concerned with memory, and frequently touches on the dreadful silence of the German people concerning the Holocaust.

Iain Sinclair first visits Manchester, meeting the writer Nicholas Royle to look for remnants of the post-industrial landscape which features in The Emigrants, the first book by Sebald to appear in English translation in 1996. In Norfolk, Sinclair meets Jo Catling, a colleague of Sebald’s at UEA. Finally in London, with Sebald’s friend, the poet Stephen Watts, Sinclair walks the East London streets and cemeteries featured in his last book, Austerlitz.

Presenter: Iain Sinclair
Producer: Jessica Treen.

 Here’s a previous post on Sinclair writing about Sebald.

Farrago at Test Centre

American Smoke launch

Iain Sinclair with the jacket for his new book American Smoke.

London’s Test Centre has just announced a month of activities that I’d dearly love to see if only I were in London.  Test Centre, just to remind everybody, is a publisher and art event organization that recently published Iain Sinclair’s excellent little book Austerlitz & After: Tracking Sebald, which I wrote about in April.  Now, it seems that they’ve snagged the first month of the new art space simply known as F (located in a former Sea Cadets building in Stoke Newington) to house a series of events and a pop-up shop curated by Sinclair, Chris Petit, Stewart Home, and others.  There’s no point in my even attempting to summarize the farrago of activities, so I’ll just steal a bit of the text from Test Centre’s website (but do check out the website as there is much more that I didn’t swipe):

The first residency at this exciting new arts venue will consist of a shop and exhibition space curated in turn by Iain Sinclair, Chris Petit, Test Centre, Purge + Ecstatic Peace Library, and Stewart Home, and will be accompanied by a series of evening events. The developing display of film, art, and sound will accompany a new and secondhand book and record shop, also containing specially-produced editions and ephemera. The pop-up shop will stock a range of books, pamphlets, records, CDs and tapes, including some collectible and rarely available publications. Works by all of the curators and performers will be on sale, and each week new stock will be added.

The exhibition and shop will combine archival displays and discoveries with newly created works, exploiting the unusual architecture and hidden spaces of the building. Works published specially for sale in the shop will be sold alongside adapted, rediscovered and collectible works.

WEEK 1, curated by Iain Sinclair, will include a shop and exhibition of items recently excavated, with posters, framed photographs, new editions of old and recent books, limited edition cassette tapes, a collection of books from Sinclair’s own library, and an accompanying catalogue. The curation recalls Sinclair’s many years as a bookdealer.

WEEK 2, curated by Chris Petit, will be the first physical manifestation of his Museum of Loneliness project. The shop and exhibition will include an underground gallery of audio detritus, a 1960s stereogram playing MoL audio, a specially refurbished dolls’ house of memory, a collection of 100 numbered books from the MoL’s ‘fragments of the lost library’, executed books, stone faces, MoL pamphlets, rare DVDs, a collection of text experiments, signed first editions of Petit’s novel Robinson, and paintings by Emma Matthews.

WEEK 3, curated by Test Centre, will bring together the work of a number of Test Centre associates. With sound and image the week will expand upon the history and releases of the label / publishing house so far, using spoken word records and other recordings alongside artwork from our magazine.

WEEK 4 will be a joint curation by Purge + Ecstatic Peace Library. Purge will set up shop as the ‘Liberated Film Store’, selling a collection of lost and forgotten DVDs and an accompanying publication. Liberated as free from industry… Made in impossible circumstances. Mutant. Banned. Too much. At the same time, Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz’s Ecstatic Peace Library will display a collection of publications and ephemera related to the notorious Stoke Newington Eight, as an engagement with the exhibit’s locale and an imaginative response to the month’s programme of literature.

WEEK 5, curated by Stewart Home, will bring together the varied guises of Home’s work as artist, novelist, pamphleteer, filmmaker, activist and performer.. The most out there writer on the planet, Home is the only person on earth who is visible to the naked eye from outer space! He really does burn that brightly.

Some of the events are free, some are not. Tickets can obtained here.  By the way, on November 8, when Sinclair’s new book American Smoke is launched, one of the films being shown is Patricio Guzmán’s documentary Nostalgia for the Light (2010), which contrasts the rise of Chilean astronomy with the fate of those imprisoned in the country’s Chacabuco Mine prisons, a powerful and poetic film I have written about.