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Asian Fusion

New Encounters in the Asian-German Avant-Garde


Caroline Rupprecht

This book contributes to a historically evolving conversation about immigration as a facet of globalization in the European context. Focusing on literary and artistic works from the post–World War II era, the author uses a «call-and-response» structure – as in African-American slave songs, Indian kirtans, and Jewish liturgy – to create a series of dialogues between Asian-German authors, including Yoko Tawada, Pham Thi Hoài, and Anna Kim, and an earlier generation of German-speaking authors and artists whose works engaged with «Asia,» including W. G. Sebald, Peter Weiss, and Joseph Beuys.

Considering the recent successes of the New Right, which have brought about a regression to Nazi anti-Semitic discourses grounded in the equation between Jews and «Orientals,» the author advocates a need for solidarity between Germans and Asian-Germans. Using «fusion» as a metaphor, she revises the critical paradigms of Orientalism and postcolonial studies to show how, in the aftermath of the twelve-year Nazi dictatorship, Germany has successfully transformed itself into a country of immigration – in part due to the new and pioneering Asian-German voices that have reshaped the German-speaking cultural landscape and that are now, for the first time, featured as coming together in this book.

«Asian Fusion is a remarkably original book that delineates an exciting new field: Asian- German cultural studies. Using an innovative call-and-response model, Rupprecht records the responses of contemporary Asian-German writers to the ‹calls› made by a preceding generation of German artists and writers (Joseph Beuys, Peter Weiss, W. G. Sebald) toward Asia. A compelling and authoritative work!» (John Zilcosky, author of Kafka’s Travels and Uncanny Encounters: Literature, Psychoanalysis and the End of Alterity)

«In Asian Fusion, Caroline Rupprecht ingeniously pairs three postwar German authors who engaged with Asia with three award-winning Asian-German writers, constructing compelling intergenerational dialogues between Sebald and Tawada, Weiss and Pham, and Beuys and Kim. Taking the Shoah as a point of departure and a point of reference, the book shoulders the intellectual as well as ethical responsibilities of addressing racism in Germany. A great read and a major contribution to Asian-German Studies!» (Qinna Shen, Chair and Associate Professor of German, Bryn Mawr College)