The Crisis Inside: Tapestry of a Generation

Article published on Aug. 21, 2014
Article published on Aug. 21, 2014

Overcoming internal crises can be difficult. Living in a world connected through the internet and media begs the question: how similar or different are the internal crises we harbor to those of others. This fall, those inner crises will be brought to light through an anthology of short stories written by authors from across the globe. 

Many peo­ple in our mod­ern world are faced with crises, whether tech­no­log­i­cal, emo­tional, eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal or so­cio­cul­tural. Surely it wouldn't be a stretch to deem the term "cri­sis" a cliché. But even the most banal cliché can still leave be­hind crumbs that trace back to sit­u­a­tions that are very real to the peo­ple in­volved. Ju­lian Tanger­mann, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Freiburg-based Kladde Buchver­lag, de­vel­oped the idea to put these sit­u­a­tions down on paper, not just to elu­ci­date is­sues as they're felt and ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple today, but also to cre­ate a ta­pes­try of the world, its cul­tures and the peo­ple who must wade their way through a stream of un­cer­tainty.

The pro­ject, which is ti­tled The Cri­sis In­side, is an in­ter­na­tional short story pro­ject that will cul­mi­nate in the pub­li­ca­tion of what Kladde con­sid­ers to be more of a lit­er­ary por­trait than an an­thol­ogy. With 18 sto­ries, 12 lan­guages and more than 30 coun­tries in­volved, each story will be ac­com­pa­nied by a trans­la­tion, widen­ing the read­er­ship to the world that ul­ti­mately helped cre­ate them. 

Cafébabel: How was this pro­ject first con­ceived?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: The Cri­sis-In­side An­thol­ogy was a pro­ject that came into ex­is­tence al­most nat­u­rally: in 2013 two friends of mine had pub­lished their first big­ger works - Tiago in Brazil fin­ished a novel and Mona from Egypt con­cluded a the­atre play. In both Tiago's and Mona's so­ci­eties there was some form of "cri­sis" at this time: in Cairo young peo­ple were tak­ing to the streets in order to re­gain their lib­er­ties and call for a more just and equal so­ci­ety - in Sao Paulo and Rio it was equally the young gen­er­a­tion that stood up against in­jus­tices and demanded their full par­tic­i­pa­tion in so­ci­ety. My ini­tial thought of get­ting those two friends to­gether quickly de­vel­oped into a big­ger pro­ject. After the ini­tial phase, when we ac­tively started to look for au­thors from other coun­tries and parts of the world, we kept the idea of "cri­sis" at the basis of our pro­ject.

Cafébabel: What con­sti­tutes a "gen­er­a­tional cri­sis," and what does it mean today?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann:  All of us know and ex­pe­ri­ence crises in one way or the other. Brazil and Egypt were ex­treme ex­am­ples a year ago - Syria and Ukraine are just some of the more ex­treme ones today. In other so­ci­eties, there is a feel­ing of cri­sis among the younger gen­er­a­tion as well, al­beit on a dif­fer­ent level: job­less­ness in Spain, daily vi­o­lence in Colom­bia or the dif­fi­cul­ties of find­ing se­cure em­ploy­ment in Aus­tria. And then, of course, there is a wide range of per­sonal crises: of hav­ing to deal with life in times of rapid change and loss, in times when old cer­tain­ties have van­ished and iden­tity is not al­ways a clearly given fact. Every gen­er­a­tion has had its crises so far - but we are the first gen­er­a­tion that not only ex­pe­ri­ences this glob­ally through mass media and the web, but also has the pos­si­bil­i­ties of talk­ing about and shar­ing these ex­pe­ri­ences glob­ally in our in­ter­con­nected times. Our an­thol­ogy intends to cast the ex­pe­ri­ence of a cri­sis-prone gen­er­a­tion in dif­fer­ent cul­tures and con­texts through lit­er­a­ture.

Cafébabel: What might this pro­ject tell us about our hu­man­ity?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: I guess, if one de­cides to ded­i­cate an en­tire vol­ume to a topic as neg­a­tive as "cri­sis", the re­sponse one were to ex­pect to this ques­tion would be a sim­i­larly neg­a­tive one: we are in cri­sis, our gen­er­a­tion is in cri­sis, the world is in cri­sis. To a cer­tain ex­tent this is true: these sto­ries, yes, tell us a lot about dif­fi­cul­ties and tragedies - but they also tell us a lot about the fact that there is a gen­er­a­tion out there will­ing to take up these chal­lenges, a gen­er­a­tion that has been given a world full of crises, but that faces these in cre­ative and won­der­ful ways. In a way, writ­ing about crises, as our au­thors do, is a way of af­fronting them.

Cafébabel: Can you gives us a glimpse into some of the themes in the sto­ries?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: As we are still very much work-in-progress, I don't want to re­veal too much. There will be sneak pre­views of the sto­ries on our crowd-fund­ing web­site, as soon as the fund­ing is open (in Sep­tem­ber). The an­thol­ogy is re­ally rather a plethora of the cre­ativ­ity and skill of our 18 dif­fer­ent au­thors. They man­aged to pro­vide 18 sto­ries that, al­though based on the same com­mon theme, are so very dif­fer­ent in style and in con­tent, that every story is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent jewel worth dis­cov­er­ing.

Cafébabel: What sort of guide­lines have the writ­ers had to fol­low, if any?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: The au­thors were fully free to play with their creativity. As long as their text fit­ted into the rough idea of a "short story" they were free to tackle what­ever theme they deemed im­por­tant and to write in what­ever style they wanted. Thus, there are some rather po­etic as well as some rather straight-for­ward nar­ra­tive sto­ries. The only real rule we set up at the very be­gin­ning was that the au­thors should not talk to each other and ex­change their ideas on the sto­ries. We wanted the 18 writ­ers to write 18 unique texts - and this, as we see the sto­ries now, has worked in­cred­i­bly well.

Cafébabel: What hopes do you have for the pro­ject?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: The work at all stages of the In­ter­na­tional Short Story Pro­ject was vol­un­tary: the au­thors have worked in­ten­sively on cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful texts, the ed­i­tors have put a lot of ef­fort into mak­ing them shine and the trans­la­tors have shown in­cred­i­ble tal­ent on trans­lat­ing them. Now we need the help of many en­t­hu­si­as­tic and lit­er­a­ture-lov­ing peo­ple from all over the globe to pitch in and help cast­ these sto­ries into an ac­tual phys­i­cal book by sup­port­ing the crowd-publishing. 

Cafébabel: Why did you opt for crowdpublishing?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: For prac­ti­cal rea­sons as well as for rea­sons of con­tent and con­vic­tion. On the prac­ti­cal side, I had ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of turn-downs of big­ger pub­lish­ers. They were all en­thu­si­as­tic about the idea, but were too scared to sup­port a new and in­no­v­a­tive form of lit­er­a­ture pro­ject. Then, by chance, I met Jonas and the team from Kladde Buchver­lag who were not only fas­ci­nated by the pro­ject but also will­ing to do all they could to make the book hap­pen. On the side of con­tent and con­vic­tion: the In­ter­na­tional Short Story Pro­ject lives from con­tri­bu­tions from over 30 coun­tries. Our more than 70 team mem­bers come from all parts of the world and make the Cri­sis-In­side An­thol­ogy a real in­ter­na­tional book. We hope that crowd-publishing will mir­ror this input of our in­ter­na­tional team in terms of in­ter­na­tional sup­port. 

Cafébabel: Can you tell us a lit­tle more about Kladde Buchver­lag?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: The Kladde Buchver­lag is a young and dy­namic start-up pub­lish­ing house which was founded by the team around Jonas Al-Nemri just two years ago. Their idea was to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the book-mar­ket through com­bin­ing the high-qual­ity stan­dards of tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing houses with the de­mo­c­ra­tic, open and vi­brant pos­si­bil­i­ties of crowd-publishing. The con­cept is sim­ple: au­thors send in their man­u­scripts and if Kladde Buchver­lag ac­cepts them into their pro­gram, they are proof-read and pre­sented to the crowd. After there is suf­fi­cient spon­sor­ship by crowd-fun­ders, the work is pub­lished as a high-qual­ity book. 

Cafébabel: Where and how will this pro­ject be show­cased?

Ju­lian Tanger­mann: Right now we are plan­ning some ac­tiv­i­ties to pre­sent the pro­ject and the an­thol­ogy to a wider pub­lic. As our pub­lisher is based in Eu­rope, there will be a slight focus on this part of the world, e.g. we will show­case the book at the Frank­furt Book Fair. How­ever, we are also look­ing for­ward to making peo­ple aware of the an­thol­ogy and the crowd-fund­ing in many other parts of the world through many local events, such as book shop lec­tures and the like.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the project can be found at the Facebook page and to help sup­port visit: www.​thecrisisinside.​net.