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Gabriele Riedle in reading and conversation with Jürgen Kuttner - book premiere

In a radio report, Gabriele Riedle’s narrator hears of the violent death in Libya of the famed British war photographer Tim H*** [a character based on the late Magnum photographer Tim Hetherington]. She had just recently traveled as a reporter with him in civil-war-torn Liberia. This gives her reason to tell her story about him, his life and death, but also of her own experiences in many corners of the world, in Afghanistan and in the Caucasus, in the heights of the Himalayan mountains and on travels through Liberia.

Gabriele Riedle
Gabriele Riedle © Claudius Pratsch

Into her story flow images and descriptions of the world that international reporters provide to major media outlets in Hamburg and Manhattan – those that interpret current events across the globe. Their reporting in images and texts bears witness to the condition and crisis of western civilization but is subject to aesthetic and economic constraints.

Gabriele Riedle, herself, has twenty years of experience working as a reporter. In Jungles. In Deserts. At War. is however a work of original prose, a work of literature richly telling of events and with images intricately woven into a complex narrative, far removed from realistic reportage, suffused with images that leave lasting impressions. The reflections of her first-person narrator and her most personal experiences combine into a roaming stream of consciousness conveyed in wide-ranging, rhythmically oscillating musical sentences.

In the novel In Jungles. In Deserts. At War. Gabriele Riedle gives voice to a female narrator in a traditionally masculine genre. This world-encompassing novel could not be timelier today, and not merely in view of the fabrications by reporters like Claas Relotius of Germany’s Der Spiegel, but also given the unsettling of the West after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, with which the novel ends.

Gabriele Riedle was born in Stuttgart in 1958 and lives in Berlin. Her reporting from every continent and from crisis and conflict zones ranging from Afghanistan and Libya to Chechnya and Darfur has received many awards. She worked as a reporter for the German magazine GEO for many years and was in 2018 a visiting professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where she taught the history of wartime reporting. In 1998, she published her first novel Fluss [River] co-authored with Victor Erofeyev. Commenting on her second novel, Versuch über das wüste Leben (On the Desolate Life, 2004), the prominent German writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger wrote: “Riedle’s bullet-proof prose scintillates with profound reflections and is packed with high-spirited escapades. Her tempo is furious, her ambition bold beyond measure.” Her novel Superfluous People (2012) written “with rhetorical verve and not without self-irony [made] short shrift of the West German bildungsroman.” (Der Spiegel)
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Volksbühne - Roter Salon