How to Read in Two Languages at Once


At Hamburg’s Harbourfront Book Festival.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Harbourfront Literature Festival in Hamburg, Germany (i.e. not in  Toronto, which has a Harbourfront Book Fest of its own). Hamburg is a gorgeous city, though I saw little of it apart from the area adjacent to the Elbe River. What I did see was impressive. At the confluence of three huge waterways, it’s a very nautical city—meaning all the fish I ate was superb!

St. Michael Church

St. Michael Church. A landfall mark for ships on the Elbe since 1669.

At the festival itself, I had great fun performing a bilingual reading with the German writer, illustrator and actor, Martin Baltscheit, the talented voice of the German language Zorgamazoo audiobook.


Martin Baltscheit, reading with gusto.

Martin was an expressive, highly entertaining reader. Not since the English audiobook have I had the pleasure of hearing someone so fully inhabit my characters, to say nothing of bringing them to life in a whole new language!

Many thanks to the Harbourfront Festival, their sponsors Gruner + Jahr Publishing House, Jessica Schlage for her hosting and translation, and to my German publishers, Jacoby & Stuart, for organising my attendance. Thanks to all. I had a wonderful time!


Jessica Schlage, our excellent moderator.


Me, doing my English thing.

(Festival photographs copyright Jenny Jacoby / G&J)

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2 THOUGHTS TO " How to Read in Two Languages at Once "

  1. Dear Rob –
    it was my pleasure!! Full house, children totally amazed and such a wonderful book – you and Martin really brought it to life that day! Wish you good luck for the Buchmesse and award nomination –

    warm regards from Hamburg (come back soon!)