The recent Climate Fiction Festival Berlin at Literaturhaus Berlin was an international cli-fi literary festival involving German cli-fi novelists, German journalists and German literary critics along with dozens of American, Turkish, Italian, Bulgarian and French writers participating via online Zoom platforms, YouTube and other apps. It took place online from December 4-6 for three days, and what made this cli-fi literary festival unique is that it was set up, organized and run by German writers, critics and journalists in Berlin.
Martin Zahringer served as the festival director, speaking in German, English and other languages as writers from around the world gathered via Zoom and YouTube to address climate themes of the literary kind. For the first time, Germany has taken center stage in the evolution of the cli-fi genre.
Even with the popularity of cli-fi in America and other Anglophone nations, no English-speaking country has ever set up and organized a cli-fi festival like this one in Berlin. It has never happened in New York or London. Kudos to the festival organizers in Berlin!
So is cli-fi a new label or an old genre? While The Climate Fiction Festival was the world’s first literary festival with a focus on the climate crisis and literature, In Germany in particular, “Climate Fiction” has up to now received little attention. Ilja Trojanow’s comic satire of a cli-fi novel “EisTau” (The Lamentations of Zeno” in English) was in the spotlight. John von Düffel’s novel “The Burning Lake” about the Fridays-for-Future protests was in the spotlight, too. The nature writing of the poet Marion Poschmann and an eco-thriller by Dirk Fleck,too. The program of the three-day online festival Climate Fiction Festival, organized by Literaturhaus Berlin and CCnetwork berlin, was correspondingly diverse. Because it is by no means clear what actually characterizes climate fiction.
”The term is first of all a reservoir for many literary forms that the theme connects,” says festival director Martin Zähringer: “Climate fiction is literature that specifically deals with the climate crisis, with so-called climate change. Literature in which it is recognized that humankind is the cause of global warming. And from this, topics are worked out and substances are developed. ”
The English Germanist Andrew Goodbody, one of the earliest experts on this literary form, characterized the cli-fi genre through the subject matter.
“In the absence of a precise definition, Cli-Fi could best be thought of as a special corpus of cultural products that deal with man-made climate change. They do not explore the phenomenon only with a view to the setting, but in relation to psychological and social issues, by combining fictional actions with meteorological facts, speculations about the future and reflections on the human-nature relationship. They do this with open borders to form a larger archive of relatives Works from which they sometimes use for their portrayal and description of the climate crisis,” Dr Goodbody said.