23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Feridun Zaimoglu
© Hartwig Klappert

Feridun Zaimoglu

Feridun Zaimoglu was born in Bolu, Anatolia, in 1964 and grew up as the son of an immigrant family in Germany. He has been living in Kiel since 1985 where he studied art and medicine. In his first book in 1995, »Kanak Sprak. 24 Misstöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft« (1997; t: ›Kanak‹ Speak. 24 broken sounds from the edge of society), the following books, »Abschaum. Die wahre Geschichte des Ertan Ognun« (1995; t: Scum: The true story of Ertan Ognun) and »Koppstoff« (1998), as well as the film »Kanak Attack« (2000), he brought the idiom of young immigrants into the German collective consciousness. Since then he has been regarded as a cult author and figurehead of migrant literature in Germany.

»Kanak Sprak« presents the life stories and philosophies of Turkish immigrants. The texts are based on street talk, from which Zaimoglu develops his own literary forms. He mixes staccato German-English street-talk with vulgar, obscene and offensive expressions and with direct translations of archaic Turkish turns of phrase. Although he has been presented as the spokesperson of r an entire section of the population, he does not follow any particular agenda. His central theme is, rather, the human need for home and love, exemplified by the fate of immigrants, which he presents with a vigorous command of language. The collection of stories »Zwölf Gramm Glück« (2004; t: Twelve grams of happiness) consists of twelve stories that concern the search for love, set both in the modern, new Western homeland of the first-person narrators and in their Oriental, old-fashioned country of origin. In the bestseller »Leyla« (2006), Zaimoglu tells the story as seen through the eyes of the protagonist – condemned to the role of observer by patriarchal society – of her childhood in the Anatolian provinces, her move to the metropolis, Istanbul, and the vague hope of finding a better life as a guest worker in Germany. The protagonist of the novel »Liebesbrand« (2008, t: Love’s Fire), also of Turkish descent, falls in love with a woman who gives him something to drink after a near fatal bus accident. His farcical search for her brings together the romantic and oriental concepts of love, taking him first back to Germany, where he grew up, and then to Vienna and Prague. In his latest novel, “Hinterland“(2009) Zaimoglu extends his literary examination of the manifestations of love in our times with a series of furious episodes.

Awards received by the author include the Hebbel Prize, Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, Hugo Ball Prize, Grimmelshausen Prize and Corine Literature Prize. He has been the writer in residence on the island of Sylt and Samuel Fischer Professor at the Free University, Berlin. His Tübingen lectures on poetry have been published as »Ferne Nähe« (2007; t: Distant closeness). His fellowship at the Villa Massimo in Rome inspired the book »Rom Intensiv« (2007; t: Rome Intensive). He writes regularly for »Die Zeit«, the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«, »Die Welt« and the »Frankfurter Rundschau«.

© internationales literature festival berlin


Kanak Sprak
Hamburg, 2004

German Amok
Frankfurt/Main, 2004

Zwölf Gramm Glück
Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2004

Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2008

Kiepenheuer & Witsch
Köln, 2009