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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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Michael Hofmann Romantic Rebellion: Feridun Zaimoglu and Anti-bourgeois Tradition

Extract

Since the resounding success of his first book, Kanak Sprak (1995), Feridun Zaimoglu has produced an increasingly diverse body of work in which ‘dis- cords from the social margins’ play an ever more minor role, and instead mainstream literary traditions are creatively reworked. This essay argues that Zaimoglu can be identified as a Romantic rebel, and not just in the popular sense that he celebrates the power of intense feelings. His work draws upon concepts of literary Romanticism in original ways, uncover- ing their productive potential in the context of early twenty-first-century postmodernism. Surveying Zaimoglu’s prose fiction to date, the essay will show how the intercultural dimension of the work, which constructs cer- tain confrontations between elements of German and Turkish cultures, intersects with a rebellion against instrumental reason and the primacy of economic thought, in the name of imagination, unconditional love and a religion of the heart. For Zaimoglu, the transformations of German society wrought by glo- balization and migration create a space of potential (‘Spielraum’), in which far more is at stake than ethnic and class oppression and marginalization. Resistance to neo-liberalism, and the concomitant normalization of indi- vidual existence, is not just a matter of solidarity with the downtrodden, the under-privileged, but demands urgent ef forts to fortify all those traditions and tendencies in which the value of human beings is not measured solely in terms of their economic productivity or their bank balances. Romanticism provides key cultural resources for this resistance. The polemical clichés of...

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