Former Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli died on 18 March ostensibly of COVID-19/Photo: President John Magufuli/Facebook

Worldwide reading for the dead of the pandemic

The international literature festival berlin [ilb] calls on individuals, schools, universities, cultural institutions and media to participate in a Worldwide Reading for the Dead of the Corona Pandemic on September 5, 2021. The reading is intended to commemorate those who died in the pandemic.

For more than a year, the world has been in the grip of the pandemic. Nearly three million people worldwide have died from Covid-19. Not a day goes by when we are not confronted with statistics and curves on current deaths and illnesses. Yet, it often remains abstract numbers. The individual person and the individual stories behind them are hardly present in the public perception.

Illness, death and grief have become largely invisible due to precautionary measures. Many people die alone, behind closed doors, and are buried in small circles. In many cases, there is no way for relatives and friends to say goodbye – and if they do, it is at a distance or in a digital setting. 

Literature has the potential to give expression to this situation, to counter isolation at least through reception. It finds narratives away from the everyday images of horror, tells of loss from different perspectives, and helps to make the incomprehensible tangible, the intangible comprehensible.

Readings can take place anywhere, including privately in a small circle, in a school, in a cultural institution or on the radio. People who would like to participate with a reading on September 5, 2021 are asked to send us the following information: Organizers*, venue, time, participating actors, event language, link to your website if applicable.

The email address is: The ilb will soon publish all texts for the reading in various languages on the website and announce the events there and on social media.

© ilb

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