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After working as a publicist and bookseller in London for over a decade, Sharmaine Lovegrove took to Berlin like a storm, sweeping the local English lit community off its sturdily shod feet with a whirlwind of initiatives, events and readings under her Dialogue Books umbrella venture.
Her Prenzl’Berg pop-up store might be gone, but Lovegrove’s busy with A-list readings for the Soho House beau monde and more readings plus a book club for the plebeians. This month she opens her online storefront, the perfect opportunity to ask this indefatigable woman about her highlights of 2010.
Best literary event in Berlin this year?
I really enjoyed the literary nightclub from Blumenbar Verlag at WMF. Sadly no longer running, this was a really interesting night of readings, music and visuals attended by Berlin’s publishing folk.
Best Dialogue event in Berlin?
The Hans Fallada (Alone in Berlin) event with Fallada’s son Ulrich Ditzen was much-anticipated, and the launch party for Jenny Erpenbeck’s English edition of The Visitation at Soho House was also a very special occasion for us... However, I think our Book Club is my favorite event.
Best Berlin venue for readings?
I really like The Direktorenhaus. Our guests loved wandering around the venue looking at the eclectic collection of artworks and illustrations before taking a seat for the reading. And it accommodates a good number of people to ensure an interesting discussion will follow.
Best Berlin venue for reading?
Café Hilde: that’s where I can usually be found with a glass of red wine and a baked potato two hours before Dialogue Book Club…
Your best bit of Berlin lit gossip?
Part of the joys of being a bookseller is the people you meet — and the secrets you keep.
Christmas gift tip: your favorite book of 2010?
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. It created something of a storm on account of its controversial plot and use of colorful language, and was also accused of being misogynistic. But I particularly enjoyed the way the plot moved forward through the device of each character having their own chapter, enabling the reader to form their own subjective opinion along the way.
What to look forward to in 2011?
The new Dialogue Berlin online shop! It’s also a cultural portal that aims to plug into an international discourse around our handpicked and considered selection of English-language books.