Over dinner – or, if you prefer, during the past hour or so – I lost roughly 10 percent of my literary capital.
Initially, I had 5000 $, provided by Riesenmaschine, a Berlin based fancy blog, to bet on the outcome of what is still probably the strangest annual event in literature in the German speaking sphere, the Ingeborg Bachmann Reading and Award: One and a half dozen of mostly young writers (young= 1 to 3 books published, on average) read an unpublished chapter before a jury of literary critics (and these critics have also nominated the authors – so they also compete, sort of) and an interested audience in arena like setting. The reading authors are – sometimes pretty harshly – reviewed live, in front of the audience and TV cameras (yes, the entire event is broadcast live by a public culture channel in Austria and Germany), and at the end, one is declared the year’s Ingeborg Bachmann winner, and a few more get additional awards and recognition – or, if they crash, they can nosedive their career.
The event is the most hated literary encounter for over 2 decades now, and still alive, and everybody who wants to be somebody in literature, goes there, ready to get badly hurt, or, like in a lotery, become the unlikely winner against all the odds.
This year’s novelty is that you can bet on the winner online, in some stock market mimikry scheme: You get 5000 virtual bucks, can invest and divest and have fun at not really any real risk.
The betting scheme is provided by Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur, or ZIA, basically an agency full of nerdy, funny, yet very professional Berlin based text workers (from PR texts to – yes, you bet – Bachmann award winning literature, as their Kathrin Passig won last year’s award with prose just perfectly targeted at that jury so that everyone was startled, both by the text and by the cold blood of its author who deliberately calculated her shots – at the jury, the audience, the entire set up).
The ZIA – which mocks, of course, CIA – also earlier proved its strong understanding of the internet, by organizing virtual audiences to the effect of lobbying successfully for their favourite participant for the ‘Audience Award’ for three years in a row!
Well, and this year, as all awards had been taken home already in the past by ZIA, they opted for calibrating the entire thing with their virtual Bachmann stock exchange.
Ever curious, I took my 5000 ZIA $ and will try my luck / skill / insight, or whatever – and keep you posted till the end which is scheduled for July 1st. Stay with us and see if I win.