The morning before the reading, Hauke ​​Hückstädt heard on the radio that Judith Zander, whom he had daringly hired, was on the shortlist for the German Book Prize with her debut novel.

On the evening of September 8, 2010, she opened the Literaturhaus's first program under his direction with "Things we said today".

It's been almost twelve years now.

However, the facility that Hückstädt and his team have managed since then is a bit older and celebrates its founding 30 years ago in May and June.

It is a catch-up festival, because it would be 31 years to celebrate.

The institution was opened, at that time still on Bockenheimer Landstraße, on January 9, 1991. In January 2021, however, nobody felt like celebrating, celebrations were impossible.

Florian Balke

Culture editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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Even 2022 is not the year for big parties for Hückstädt, the traditional "Dance into May" was canceled a few weeks ago: "We like to be on the side of the cautious." Instead, the celebrations are held with readings, because with events under pandemic conditions in constant change, he and his colleagues now know each other very well.

In this case, the readings are “representative of the profile of the house in recent years”.

The program begins on May 22nd with Philip Waechter, followed by Fatma Aydemir on May 23rd and Petra Gerster and Christian Nürnberger on May 25th.

And among the participants in the "Three times thirty" series on June 13 is Zander.

At the end of the program on 24

At each event, free annual memberships to the Literaturhausverein are raffled off among cardholders, with all the benefits that members enjoy, from participation in the river trip to pre-emption rights at events.

Memberships are a financial but also an ideal pillar of the association.

There are currently more than 700. The association runs the house, which is funded by the city of Frankfurt, but draws a significant part of its budget from renting rooms and working with partners.

In addition to numerous foundations, Hückstädt has made the Städel Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the German Film Institute and Film Museum, the Alte Oper and the Frankfurt Theater among them.

“We have moved the house to the center of the city”

He himself was a guest at the Literaturhaus for the first time in autumn 1995, as a listener at the old location in Bockenheim, occupied by founding managing director Thomas Beckermann.

The literature student, born in 1969 in Schwedt, was in town for the book fair and had made his way to the villa, which now belongs to KfW, because of the “Atlas der Neue Poesie” that Rowohlt had just published.

He thought the podium was great, enjoyed the café and probably never dreamed of returning years later to head a completely new house on the other side of town.

Since 2010, he has often taken guests through the Old City Library on the Schönen Aussicht, which was completed in 1825 and rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War II.

He told them about the gable inscription corrected by Schopenhauer and about the Kunsthalle Portikus, which was successful in the 1980s behind the columns of the remaining gable, about the old literature house near Suhrkamp-Verlag and Goethe University and about the opening at the new location under his predecessor Maria Gazzetti on October 8, 2005.

What did Hückstädt achieve?

“We put the house in the middle of the city.” Like Gazzetti, he reports remarks that the new house is nice but in the completely wrong place: “It's completely gone.

This conversation no longer exists.” But he is also a little proud of what publicly funded cultural institutions in German-speaking countries achieve: “We are world market leaders for live encounters between the public and culture.” That will remain, the “hunger for Exchange” has grown in recent years.

For him, a successful reading is more than an encounter: “Actually, we produce making-ofs.

At the ideal event, I would look inside the author before I even opened the book.” However, the audience also plays a role in success:

Network of Literature Houses

One of the most important cultural sites in Frankfurt is celebrating its anniversary, according to a statement from culture department head Ina Hartwig (SPD): “For 30 years now, the Frankfurt Literature House has inspired us with the written and read word.” We must continue on this path: “All the best for that. Hartwig's predecessor, Hilmar Hoffmann, had taken up the idea of ​​a citizens' initiative to found a literature house in the early 1990s.

The first had just been set up in Berlin.

The network of literature houses, for which Hückstädt is currently spokesman, now brings together 15 selected houses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A house must correspond to the city, says Hückstädt: “But also to the times.” From the “Literature in Simple Language” project to the “Wir sind hier” and “Textland” festivals, the program has therefore become more political: “It’s the times and we with them.” It is part of the house's job to be a host.

And in the future?

"We want visiting a literature house to be as much a part of childhood as going to the dentist, swimming and going to the zoo."

30 years Literaturhaus Frankfurt from May 22 to June 24, further information at literaturhaus-frankfurt.de

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