If you stand on the steps of the Natural History Museum and look across the street, you will see the building pictured above. This is Invalidenstrasse 104, a house that appears in the story “Séance with the Stasi” from German writer Sarah Khan’s book of contemporary Berlin ghost stories, Die Gespenster von Berlin. I translated this story into English for the new issue of the wonderful literary translation journal Asymptote.
Sarah Khan received a literary prize, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung‘s Michael-Althen-Preis für Kritik, yesterday — coincidentally the same day the new issue of Asymptote came out.
Above and below are two views of the Hinterhof, the lot behind the house. In the story a woman named Anne lives at Invalidenstrasse 104 and believes her apartment to be haunted by the embittered ghost of a turn-of-the-20th-century servant girl who died of consumption. Anne later tells this story to the author, who does archival research on the house and finds there used to be a paupers’ graveyard (belonging to the Charité hospital) behind it. I stopped by the house and its Hinterhof after I translated the story. I did not encounter any ghosts, unless by “ghosts” you mean “people annoyed that some snoopy lady was taking pictures.”