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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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Helga Druxes - The Crisis of (Re)Productivity in Dein Name

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HELGA DRUXES

The Crisis of (Re)Productivity in Dein Name

Navid Kermani’s massive new novel Dein Name [Your Name] chronicles the minutiae of everyday life for an intellectual worker in a neoliberal economy. At first, the reader is baffled by the compulsive accretion of seemingly irrelevant details. What purpose is served by an exhaustive chronicling of daily experience? The narrator of Dein Name mixes these accumulations of impression and observation with eulogies of recently deceased mentors and others. We wonder: who is the ‘Navid Kermani’ of this narrative? Throughout the text, the author reminds us that this Kermani differs from his real-life counterpart. And indeed, certain biographical details between author and narrative alter ego – such as the latter’s divorce from his wife – radically diverge. The creation of the fictional Kermani opens up a space for critical reflection amidst a barrage of imperatives for productivity and labor flexibility in a volatile market. In its scope, digressive style, and wide range of subject matter ordinarily left out of autobiographical narrative, the text amounts to a forceful rejection of neoliberal utilitarianism.1 Leftist cultural critic Jeffrey T. Nealon argues that ‘we’ve experienced an intensification of postmodern capitalism over the past decades, an increasing saturation of the economic sphere into formerly independent segments of everyday cultural life’.2 In Germany, the new global economy elevates competitiveness to its guiding principle, mandating a national quest to maintain the ‘competitiveness of Germany as a business hub’.3 At the same time, since...

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