In March 2020, the world had come to a standstill: Lockdowns had been imposed in many countries. So we decided, for once, not to stick to our usual approach of reporting on cultural exchange (in German KULTURAUSTAUSCH). Instead we opted to kickstart our own cultural exchange project. In a crisis situation, where states began cutting themselves off from each other, we wanted to forge a narrative connection across the continents: sending a story around the world. And so we invited eight writers to create a story together. Only the first sentence was set in stone: “The city was empty.”
From then on, a narrative unfolded, from Serhij Zhadan in Ukraine to Mathias Énard in France Tope Folarin in the USA, continue to Glenn Diaz in the Philippines, Patricia Grace in New Zealand, Yvonne Owuor in Kenya and Claudia Piñeiro in Argentina all the way to Ben Okri in Great Britain. The story charts a historic catastrophe that stretches far into the future - and which repeatedly snakes back to the present too.