Fritten und Identität

Tot oder lebendig / Verdunstung in der Randzone | Ariana Zustra (Dubrovnik/Berlin) & Ilija Matusko (Berlin)  

13 Jul 2024 | Wort(g)arten 2024Reading

To mark World Pommes Day, Wort(g)arten presents two authors whose new books explore questions of identity and fries, and how the two can be connected.

Tot oder lebendig / Ariana Zustra

On the evening before her thirtieth birthday, Anna Thurow decides to die. Or at least considers all the different ways of committing suicide - but none of them seem right. She is neither unhappy nor happy, but something has always seemed strangely wrong to her. A hypnotist deduces Anna's alienation with herself and the world from a previous life: the ghost of a Croatian Jew called Andri is rumbling around inside Anna. Curiosity wins and she travels to Andri's supposed home town of Dubrovnik. There she meets Anka, who knew this Andri, and learns more and more about the war past of former Yugoslavia and the Nazi crimes. Zustra's debut novel Tot oder lebendig (Dead or Alive) deals with the repressed battlefields of the Shoah and the boundaries of religion, identity and sexuality. A hilarious and tragic novel about the attempt to explain oneself and the world, and about the question of who we can be if we don't know who we are.

Ariana Zustra, born in Dubrovnik in 1987, is a freelance journalist and musician living in Berlin. She manages the book page of Musikexpress and is a freelance author for the philosophy magazine Hohe Luft.

Verdunstung in der Randzone / Ilija Matusko 

Ilija's parents run a restaurant in Bavaria. He helps in the kitchen as a child, growing up with chips and deep fryers. Because his father likes to play tennis, he sends his son to tennis lessons and Ilija makes new friends at the club and wants to go to grammar school like them. His life becomes increasingly disconnected from that of his parents, especially when his father returns to Croatia. But something stays with him through the years: “It smells like chips, Ilija is coming!” This sentence from a classmate, which has stayed with him to this day, becomes the starting point for a self-questioning process: Does the smell reveal one's social background?
In his debut, Ilija Matusko combines personal memories with sociological observations. In ten essayistic chapters, he tells the story of an educational climber - with a keen eye for subtle differences, wit and literary power.

Ilija Matusko, born in 1980, studied sociology and political science and lives and works in Berlin, including for the taz.


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An event organised by fabrik Potsdam in cooperation with the Viktoriagarten bookshop. The fabrik Potsdam is supported by the state capital Potsdam and with funds from the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg.