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The Only Question: Melbourne and Heidelberg - Christopher Raja and Konstantin Hanack

Кристофер Раджа и Константин Ханак

The Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Program Directorate continues publishing The Only Question - new international project - materials. 40 authors from 18 UNESCO literary cities (or related cities) participate in the project.  Authors from Melbourne and Heidelberg – Christopher Raja and Konstantin Hanack – are our guests of the project.

The organizers invited writers, poets, playwrights, translators from UNESCO literary cities to imagine they have the opportunity to ask just one question to an author from any other literary city. The initiative will help to introduce the authors from the literary cities to each other and establish their dialogue. The project will also let to understand what issues are of concern to authors from different countries today. Besides, it will provide an opportunity for readers to get to know new writers and poets.

Questions and answers by the authors (in Russian and English) along with a short biography of each participant and links to their publications will regularly appear on the Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Website, other literary cities' websites, and social media, etc. Writers' dialogs will also be offered for publication on the project partners' platforms (literary magazines, libraries, literary media, and mass media). As a result of the project, in summer 2022 an online anthology will be released (in Russian and English) with all the conversations.

Christopher Raja, Melbourne

Why do you write?

Konstantin Hanack, Heidelberg

I started writing poetry when I was sixteen. Twenty years later, I'm still doing it. I haven't been writing prose that long. 

But I think I know why I'm doing both. Writing prose helps me to organize my everyday life. 

You can say, writing keeps me in line. It is different with poems. Poems reach into something higher. 

The writing is not a calm flow, but a short, impulsive emotion. This combination of prose and poetry create my literary life. 

I think it has something to do with health and metaphysics as well. Poems drift upwards. Prose keeps you on the ground. 

Konstantin Hanack, Heidelberg

Does your work have a common thread?

Christopher Raja, Melbourne

I'm not sure what links my work but if there is a common thread I would say, i prefer readers and critics to ponder questions like these. I want to practice and keep developing as a writer and grow my readership. I have a global outlook and would welcome translations of my work. My books are varied. I have written for the theatre, young adults and adults. I write essays, reviews, plays, novels and memoir. I like to play, be challenged, and enjoy working using a variety of styles, settings and voices. In a way something that links my work together is I often start in a position of not knowing and wanting to discover and there is a desire to learn as I go further into the project. Perhaps themes of exile, land, mental health and metaphysics connect my work but essentially it is story that would be the common thread in my work. Yes, I am a storyteller. This love for storytelling was instilled in me from a young age and this made me a reader and my love of reading and stories inevitably made me a writer.



Christopher Raja Melbourne

Кристофер  Раджа

Christopher Raja is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Into the Suburbs: A Migrant's Story (UQP, 2020) that was highly commended in this year's National Biography Award. He co-authored the play The First Garden with Natasha Raja, which was performed in botanical gardens and published by Currency Press in 2012. His debut novel, The Burning Elephant, was published in 2015 (Giramondo). It was written with the assistance of an Australia Council New Work grant. Christopher lived in the Northern Territory for 12 years and has been twice shortlisted for its Chief Minister’s Book of the Year award. Raja migrated from Calcutta to Melbourne in 1986. He is the 2021 UTS Copyright Agency New Writer's Fellow.


Konstantin Hanack, Heidelberg

Константин Ханак

Konstantin Hanack was born in 1985 in Luckenwalde near Berlin. He grew up in Brandenburg and finished school in 2005. Afterwards he studied philosophy, sociology and German language in Jena and Postdam. Today he lives in Heidelberg. He is currently working as a teacher and writing a novel.

Author's publications and interviews

- Halbjahresversuch (mit Annegret Pannier). Gedichte. Leipziger Literaturverlag. Leipzig 2013. - Von den Sümpfen. Gedichte. hochroth Verlag. Berlin 2009.

Previous issues:

  1. Heidelberg-Ulyanovsk – Şafak Sariçiçek and Sergei Gogin
  2. Melbourne - Heidelberg – Christopher Raja and Klaus Kayser
  3. Calgary-Mannheim - Kelly Kaur And Claudia Schmid
  4. Melbourne And Ulyanovsk - Rijn Collins and Gala Uzryutova
  5. Heidelberg - Nottingham – Ingeborg von Zadow and Leanne Moden
  6. Durban-Ulyanovsk – Adiela Akoo and Sergei Gogin
  7. Heidelberg-Ulyanovsk|Moscow – Şafak Sarıçiçek and Irina Bogatyryova
  8. Yekaterinburg-Iowa City – Ekaterina Simonova and Jacquelyn Bengfort
  9. Iowa City-Québec – Jeremy Geragotelis and Vanessa Bell
  10. Heidelberg-Ulyanovsk – Juliane Sophie Kayser and Gala Uzryutova
  11. Durban-Melbourne – Adiela Akoo and Rijn Collins
  12. Heidelberg – Dublin – Şafak Sarıçiçek and Csilla Toldy
  13. Ulyanovsk - Heidelberg - Gala Uzryutova and Juliane Sophie Kayser
  14. Melbourne-Heidelberg:   Anne Richter And Judith Rossell
  15. Ljubljana-Melbourne – Andrej Tomazin and Jo Langdon