Berlin (dpa) - Jonathan Landgrebe has been CEO of Suhrkamp Verlag AG in Berlin for five years. Before the house's 70th birthday, the publisher of the German Press Agency (dpa) explained the current situation and prospects of one of the most important German publishers.
Question: Where do you see the publisher's most important successes? Answer: Every book we publish is a success. And of course we also want sales success, but you can't plan it, only rarely at least. It is important to us to accompany our authors for many years, in their writing and in the publication of their books. This is how the real success of the publisher comes about.
Question: Suhrkamp was an intellectual institution of the Federal Republic for decades - why is that no longer the case today? Answer: The publisher is still an intellectual institution today. With the authors who publish their books with us, whether in literature or science, we still bundle a significant part of the intellectual and intellectual life of this country - also from the foreign-language area. This is expressed in our books and also in the debates that spark them.
Question: What can publishers and authors still contribute to the self-image and self-confidence of a country and its society today? Answer: First of all, literature is aimed at the individual reader. And it contributes significantly to a person's wealth of experience and his self-location in life. The imagination, the sensitivity that is expressed in literature, always carries the possibility of another world. And this also has an effect on society.
Question: Where do you still see writers getting involved today? Answer: Everywhere. One should not immediately expect a writer to change the political world immediately, it has never been so, even if you sometimes think retrospectively. The presence of the authors in the public discourse is there. They are seismographs. With their independence and intuition, they express what some may feel but cannot formulate.
Question: How have the internal disputes damaged the publisher's reputation? Answer: The disputes have ended since 2015, which is now almost six years ago and the chapter is over. The publishing program, the public response, the numerous prizes for our authors, and yes, also the sales success show that the publishing house survived this phase unscathed. Question: What other literary criticism is important for the publisher? Answer: Wherever people read, literary criticism will always arise. Giving your media space is really central for authors, for publishers, for the liveliness of literary life. We can be proud of the liveliness of literary criticism in German-speaking countries, and this also applies to theater.
Question: The publisher was always behind controversial authors like Walser or Handke. Where are the limits of publishing loyalty? Answer: The loyalty goes far, because it is essential to preserve the freedom of literature and science, of thinking. Just as it is important to draw boundaries. That is why we are naturally particularly attentive to topics such as extremism, hate and intolerance, anti-Semitism or racism. Question: Where in the world is the most interesting literature currently being created? Answer: Our program shows that interesting authors today come from Central and Southern Europe, South America, but also from Australia, England and the USA, and of course from the German-speaking area itself. For us, the literary impulses from Eastern European countries are always exciting , and I can only recommend everyone to get involved. It is striking that there are some countries from which we have less literature, for example, China, politically and economically on everyone's lips, but somewhat underrepresented in literature. Question: What trend did Suhrkamp miss in terms of content? Answer: In terms of literature and science, missing trends doesn't have to be a disadvantage. But I think it's a shame, ideally and commercially, that the publisher has failed to publish children's and young people's books since the 1990s. Whole generations of children have grown up with books since the mid-1990s, which have not played a role in our publishing programs after Insel Verlag discontinued its children's book program in the late 1980s.
Question: Who will still hold books in the future? Answer: Everyone. The printed book has not been particularly disturbed by the e-book, as the numbers still show, even in Corona times. Question: How does Suhrkamp see the decision for a Frankfurt Book Fair in Corona Fall 2020? Answer: The book fair is very important to us. It is a highlight of the literary year and triggers so much between authors and audience, writers and readers. It is a major event that the whole world envies us for. We will have to live longer with Corona, certainly next year too. That is why we welcome the efforts for the fair. And we don't want to simply cancel it either, we are currently reviewing the situation and are working with the trade fair on concepts to be able to achieve something, at least on a smaller scale.
IN PERSON: Jonathan Landgrebe (43), born in Hamburg, studied in Göttingen, Lyon, Berkeley and Munich. He wrote his doctorate on entrepreneurial strategies. He joined Suhrkamp in 2007, and a year later moved to the management. He has been the publisher since 2015. Landgrebe lives in Berlin.
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