Among the Goethe-Institut's goals is to fund and promote the translation of German literature into English. Due to the increasing difficulty of raising awareness of literature in translation through traditional library programming such as readings and book clubs, the Goethe-Institut New York decided to try something different. When the first complete English translation of Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries, a postwar masterpiece set in the New York of the 1960s, was published by NYRB Classics in the fall of 2018, the Goethe-Institut New York conceived of a dynamic set of programming centered in the library, combining an installation, an event series, and an interactive online guide to the novel. This project, titled Riverside Drive Revisited, invited library visitors to relive the New York of the 1960s, and to find in this German classic new relevance for our current era of tumultuous world events, mass media consumption, and urban inequality. This poster presentation will detail how our space was transformed through collaboration with local and German partners; how we engaged with library visitors through the installation, event literature and film programming and online and social media content; how the project was managed; and finally an overview of both qualitative and quantitative outcomes of Riverside Drive Revisited. We are confident that this project can serve as a model to other libraries for engaging users with literature in translation.
Walter Schlect– Librarian, Goethe-Institut New York