Review: City-Lit Berlin

city-lit BerlinUnlike other Berlin guidebooks, City-Lit Berlin is a literary guide that encompasses 127 excerpts from texts about the city by no less than 69 writers. It seems an apt approach to getting to know this city, the most volatile capital in Europe for more than a century; a city of ghosts and of artists that has been so many things to so many people.

The book lives up to the challenge, presenting a wide range of impressions, from German classics like Theodor Fontane’s Effie Breist to Tobias Rüther’s description of David Bowie’s cycle through Berlin. It includes blog posts, a number multicultural viewpoints, such as that of Indian writer and journalist Salil Tripathi and Turkish author and actress Emine Sevgi Özdamar, as well as texts never before translated into English.

These brief sketches build, layer upon layer, a detailed picture of the city. The cover bills the city-lit series as ‘perfect gems of city writing’, which every piece in this book is. It is a book that you can dip in an out of, picking up a gem of writing and rolling it between your thumb and forefinger as you walk round the city before inspecting the next gem. At the very least, it serves as a good reading list for anyone interested in Berlin.

City-Lit Berlin, edited by Heather Reyes and Katy Derbyshire, is published by Oxygen Books.

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