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Feridun Zaimoglu


Edited By Tom Cheesman and Karin E. Yeşilada

Feridun Zaimoglu made a spectacular entrance onto the German cultural scene in 1995 with Kanak Sprak: a volume of incendiary texts based on interviews with disaffected Turkish German youths, using an invented, stylized literary language, a hybrid of multiple varieties of German with a hip hop beat. A prolific and acclaimed novelist, dramatist, newspaper columnist, visual artist and live performer, Zaimoglu has remained in the public eye through controversy and reinvention. His more recent work appropriates German literary traditions in radically new ways, adapting Romantic styles, narrative forms and motifs to postmodern conditions.
This volume features the suppressed original first chapter of Leyla, Zaimoglu’s critically and commercially most successful novel, first published in 2006, as well as an extensive interview with the author. Critical essays on his writing by major scholars in the field cover issues of gender, language and power, the politics of ethnicity, religion, Romanticism and anti-modernism, and the challenges of translating his work. This is the first volume of criticism in any language dedicated to Zaimoglu’s literary work.


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Tom Cheesman Nathan Without the Rings: Postmodern Religion in Nathan Messias


Three people have brought ruin upon humanity: a shepherd, a doctor, and a camel-driver. But the camel-driver was an even greater deceiver than the others. — Abu Tahir (c. 930 CE)1 The step from tolerance to contempt for the other was always a very short one. — Niewöhner (1988: 136) Feridun Zaimoglu and Günter Senkel’s three-act play Nathan Messias (sometimes written Nathan Messiah; 2005, revised 2009) is based very loosely on Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan der Weise [Nathan the Wise] (1779). It is among their numerous adaptations of canonical dramas, commissioned by various German theatres, others being based on works by Shakespeare, Wedekind, and Molière, for productions mostly directed by Luk Perceval.2 Such adaptations are one of three lines of theatre work 1 Here Niewöhner (1988: 288) quotes (in German) the leader of the tenth-century Qarmatian revolt, as his words were reported by the Persian chronicler Nizam al- Mulk (1018–92). A Qarmatian ‘missionary handbook’ was said to urge users to ‘instil doubt into people’s minds regarding the Kur’an, the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospels’. Throughout this chapter, translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. Secondary and documentary sources are quoted in translation. 2 Romeo und Julia (dir. Dedi Baron, Theater Kiel, 2006); Julius Caesar (dir. Anne Sophie Domenz, Theater Kiel, 2011); others dir. Luk Perceval: Lulu Live based on texts by Wedekind (Munich Kammerspiele, 2006); Molière. Eine Passion based on 118 Tom Cheesman pursued by the duo over the past decade, alongside short plays...

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