Students converse with acclaimed German writer Thomas Pletzinger

October 24, 2019

On October 24, students from German IV and German Literature and Culture engaged in a student-led discussion with Berlin-based writer Thomas Pletzinger on the process of writing his latest book The Great Nowitzki, published in August 2019.

This literary reportage, in itself an unusual genre for our students, is about the legendary German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki who is personally approachable and yet difficult to grasp. In this one-hour long conversation entirely in German, students had the unique opportunity to dive into the questions of authorship, narrative perspective, and representation.

Having read an excerpt from the book, the students together with Pletzinger looked in detail at this passage to discover how the author represented a multilingual interview situation he witnessed during one of Nowitziki’s many debriefings. Students were interested to learn about Pletzinger’s painstaking process over a seven-year period of interviewing and writing hundreds of drafts while maintaining active engagement with Nowitzki’s professional world of basketball in the USA. The author took up the challenge of admittedly difficult questions such as: “How do you decide which details to include in creating a story?” “How can the physical realm and physical experiences be translated into language?” “How can the reader experience and feel the scene described?”

The conversation with Thomas Pletzinger, attended as well by others from the German-speaking public at MIT, was made possible in collaboration with the Goethe-Institute Boston as part of the “Deutschland Jahr – Wunderbar Together.”

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