This New Strange World

By Clare Wigfall. A new short story inspired by Berlin.

A new and specially commissioned short story by the award winning writer Clare Wigfall about Berlin, the city where she lives. Told through the eyes of a circus elephant as old as the Berlin Wall, the intertwined fates of the city and the elephant reveal strange parallels. The story accompanies this evening's Prom performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Clare Wigfall won the BBC National Short Story Award, 2008 for The Numbers, the opening story in her debut collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, which was well received by reviewers and critics. Clare is currently working on a second short story collection, and a novel set in British Malaya in the early half of the last century.

Clare Wigfall on writing this new story:-

"While researching this commission somehow my focus kept returning to the history of the Berlin Wall and the suddenness with which it was erected in 1961. When, by chance, I came across this same date as being paralleled with the birth of an Indian elephant called Pia who was brought over to East Berlin to perform in the GDR State Circus, I knew I'd found that strange kernel of truth from which a story could blossom. Imagining the contrasts was what intrigued me - I could picture this elephant's journey from the wilds of India to communist Germany, and the disparity she found to encounter the sequined-sparkle and magic of circus life so totally incongruous with the grey bleakness of East Berlin. Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to Pia after the Wall fell, but sadly it would appear she is now deceased. Likewise, with the demise of the GDR, its official state circus disbanded in 1990."

Read by Ayesha Dharker

Produced by Elizabeth Allard.

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By Clare Wigfall. A new short story inspired by Berlin.

A new and specially commissioned short story by the award winning writer Clare Wigfall about Berlin, the city where she lives. Told through the eyes of a circus elephant as old as the Berlin Wall, the intertwined fates of the city and the elephant reveal strange parallels. The story accompanies this evening's Prom performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Clare Wigfall won the BBC National Short Story Award, 2008 for The Numbers, the opening story in her debut collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, which was well received by reviewers and critics. Clare is currently working on a second short story collection, and a novel set in British Malaya in the early half of the last century.

Clare Wigfall on writing this new story:-

"While researching this commission somehow my focus kept returning to the history of the Berlin Wall and the suddenness with which it was erected in 1961. When, by chance, I came across this same date as being paralleled with the birth of an Indian elephant called Pia who was brought over to East Berlin to perform in the GDR State Circus, I knew I'd found that strange kernel of truth from which a story could blossom. Imagining the contrasts was what intrigued me - I could picture this elephant's journey from the wilds of India to communist Germany, and the disparity she found to encounter the sequined-sparkle and magic of circus life so totally incongruous with the grey bleakness of East Berlin. Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to Pia after the Wall fell, but sadly it would appear she is now deceased. Likewise, with the demise of the GDR, its official state circus disbanded in 1990."

Read by Ayesha Dharker

Produced by Elizabeth Allard.