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Feridun Zaimoglu

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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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Karin E. Yeşilada ‘God’s Warriors’: A Green Thread in the Work of Feridun Zaimoglu

Extract

‘Ich bin Deutscher und ich mache mich für einen deutschen Islam stark’ [I’m a German and I’m campaigning for a German Islam],1 Feridun Zaimoglu told die tageszeitung in March 2010: just one of his many pronouncements on race and religion in relation to private belief and public af fairs. Since he participated in the first German Islam Conference of 2006, as a nomi- nated representative of civil society, the media have been curious about his religious position. Zaimoglu, the son of Turkish Muslim immigrants, avoids talking about his private faith. Nevertheless, he actively takes part in the process of establishing a Muslim life in Germany. ‘Es muss doch darum gehen’, he points out, ‘Deutsche muslimischen Glaubens sichtbar zu machen und eine Normalisierung herzustellen’ [The aim must be to make Germans of Muslim faith visible and to bring about a normalization].2 In the aftermath of 9/11, Islam has become a major political and public concern and, with the emergence of so-called ‘Schläfer’ (‘sleepers’ or Islamist undercover agents), Muslim men in general have come to be considered a potential danger to Western societies. Although concepts of a clash of civilizations, linking cultural identity to religion, are much criticized, it has become common sense to define immigrants from countries such as Turkey, Iran or Morocco as ‘Muslim migrants’. In this light, Turkish migration to Germany from the 1960s onwards is now considered an immigration of Islam, changing the reading of Max Frisch’s famous words into: ‘Wir hatten Arbeits kr...

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