Nigerian author Helon Habila is curating the 2024 International Literature Festival Berlin. He is the first curator of the festival. Known in German as Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin 2024, it will be held in Berlin, Germany from September 5 to 18, 2024.

The international literature festival berlin (ilb) is a renowned literary event based in Berlin. Its comprehensive stylistic and thematic spectrum is unique – encompassing prose, poetry, non-fiction, graphic novels as well as children’s and young adult literature. The program ranges from roundtable discussions with Nobel Prize winners in literature to events aimed at promoting reading and the teaching of literature. The aim of the ilb is to address as broad an audience as possible and to involve them in a variety of ways.

Born in Nigeria and currently residing in the USA and Nigeria, Habila is the author of four novels and numerous short stories, receiving accolades such as the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. He has published environmental classic Oil on Water (2010) and migration narrative Travelers (2019), among others. Habila also has a personal connection to Berlin, having been a guest at the festival in 2008, 2013, and 2015, as well as a fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2013.

Habila’s official title is Curator-in-Residence at the festival and he will be responsible for events and invitations, working together with the festival director and the team to develop a guiding theme for the festival. Habila remarked to the organizers that he is excited about this position:

I think the ilb’s decision to appoint a Curator in Residence shows its genuine desire to collaborate with writers regarding the vision and the direction the festival should take. The ilb has always been international, but appointing me, a Nigerian writer, as the first curator in residence shows that the festival is taking a bold step to further burnish its international credentials and to welcome all writers to Berlin on an equal basis. My duty as a curator is to make this vision possible.

The selection committee consisted of the Board of the Peter-Weiss-Stiftung für Kunst und Politik e.V. Barbara Wahlster and Prof. Johannes Kister, Festival Director Lavinia Frey, Litprom-Jury member Timo Berger, Author Priya Basil, FILBA Festival Curator in Buenos Aires Victoria Rodriguez Lacrouts, Ake Literature Festival Director in Lagos Lola Shoneyin, and translator and former Director of International Literature at S. Fischer Verlag Hans Jürgen Balmes.

Basil commented that Habila was the ideal choice as his “writing accomplishments, his dedication to justice and to nurturing a plurality of literary voices, as well as his extensive network make him uniquely suited to offer the ilb creative, multi-faceted curation that connects worlds and expands imaginations.”

Meanwhile, festival director Lavinia Frey added that Habila’s curiosity, dedication to literature . . .and his knowledge of the literary scenes will change the program and the way we work together.”

Congrats to Habila on this outstanding honor!