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Feridun Zaimoglu

Series:

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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Yasemin Dayıoğlu-Yücel Authorship and Authenticity in Migrant Writing

Extract

: The Plagiarism Debate on Leyla The publication of Zaimoglu’s Leyla in 2006 was, in many ways, a literary event. The novel was highly praised by critics and advanced Zaimoglu’s standing within the German literary field (Schmidt 2008: 198), but it also led to a plagiarism debate concerning similarities between Leyla and the novel Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei, published fourteen years earlier by Emine Sevgi Özdamar (1992). This in turn initiated academic articles on aspects such as cultural capital, collective memory and authenticity, some of which read Leyla and Karawanserei in conjunction with Selim Özdogan’s Die Tochter des Schmieds, as well (2005) (Cheesman 2007: 185–95; Pf litsch 2009). The plagiarism debate in the summer of 2006 only on the surface concerned aspects of literary production. In fact it was a showcase for how migrant writers are perceived within the German literary field. The ques- tion of whether it was justified to speak of plagiarism was mainly discussed in terms of cultural capital. A legal opinion had already af firmed that the term plagiarism could not be applied (Höbel 2006). Still the debate con- tinued in literary circles. Many argued that two stories set in the same time frame and location(s) would automatically draw upon the same social and cultural matter or material (‘Stof f ’). Few commented on how this ‘Stof f ’ was presented or staged in the texts, in terms of literary style and technique. As this article aims to show, the term absent from...

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