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Navid Kermani

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Edited By Helga Druxes, Karolin Machtans and Alexandar Mihailovic

Navid Kermani – author, journalist and academic – is one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Germany today. Kermani has been at the forefront of recent debates about Islam and its role in Germany’s political, social and cultural life. Instead of emphasizing the differences between ethnic affiliations and religious beliefs, Kermani questions the Western notion of a clear dividing line between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, highlighting instead their affinities. In addition to his political essays, Kermani’s travel journalism introduces western audiences to diverse Muslim societies in the world and his fiction provides accessible meditations on first love, contemporary music, death and friendship. This is the first volume of criticism in English dedicated to Kermani’s varied work. The book features an extensive interview with the author, a reproduction in German and English of Kermani’s famous 2014 Bundestag speech and a collection of critical essays on Kermani’s writing. The essays, by major scholars in the field, cover issues such as gender, religion, cosmopolitanism, mystical experiences, and the power of the liberal arts in a time of neoliberal distraction.
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Torsten Hoffmann - Literary Cemeteries: Recalling the Dead in Kurzmitteilung and Dein Name

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TORSTEN HOFFMANN

Literary Cemeteries: Recalling the Dead in Kurzmitteilung and Dein Name1

For Regina Hoffmann (1943–2014)

While novels (in contrast to stories) usually attempt to represent the totality of a life, Navid Kermani’s first two novels are mainly concerned with death. Kurzmitteilung [Text Message], published in 2007, was the first text Kermani wrote to be called a novel and indicates its central theme already in the paratexts: on page iv, the author thanks ‘Manuela Pilartz, Pilartz Funeral Home, Cologne’, before the next page follows with a dedication ‘In memory of Claudia Fenner (1964–2005)’.2 In the novel, a Ford worker named Maike Anfang dies as young and as unexpectedly as – in real life – the Cologne actor Claudia Fenner died. The narrator finds out about her death by means of a text message referenced in the title. The remainder of the novel describes the narrator’s reactions to this news of her death. The massive novel Dein Name [Your Name] (2011) depicts the totality of the life of its authorial protagonist and first-person narrator ‘Navid Kermani’, but ‘[es] macht doch erst der Tod den Roman lebendig, den ich schreibe’ [it is death that gives life to the novel I am writing].3 For Dein Name, as Kermani explains both in the novel itself and in his Frankfurt lectures, ← 121 | 122 → is essentially a ‘Totenbuch’ [Book of the Dead].4 The novel is shaped by twenty-one eulogies for the dead, to whom...

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