A German publisher and bookstore owner considers his city’s distinguished literary legacy.
On June 29, 1912, Max Brod brought a shy, tongue-tied Franz Kafka to Leipzig to meet a daring young editor named Kurt Wolff. Wolff, then working for Rowohlt Verlag, read Kafka’s brief tales and published them before the year was out.
Peter Hinke, a plump, cheerful Leipzig native, who founded the publishing house and bookstore Connewitzer Verlagsbuchhandlung in 1990, doesn’t claim to be another Kurt Wolff. These days, it’s impossible for a small publisher, armed only with a bike and a cell phone, to compete with the German conglomerates. But he’s doing all he can, fourteen hours a day, to restore the Wolff tradition to his hometown.
Leipzig was once Germany’s “Book City,” home to the country’s largest book fair for more than three hundred years (until WWII) and to half of the German National Library. The
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