Sacred and Secular Spaces: Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei and “Großvater Zunge”
01 October 2018
21T08:38:28Z May 2019
Labor migration from Muslim-majority countries to the Federal Republic of Germany between the 1961 agreement with the Turkish government and the Anwerbestopp in 1973 was followed by family reunions and successive waves of political refugees and asylum seekers predominantly from the Balkans and the Middle East, leading to an increasingly visible Muslim presence in all areas of German culture, politics and society. The German literary scene is no exception, as the success of prize-winning authors who identify as Muslims, such as Navid Kermani and Feridun Zaimoglu, demonstrates. There has also been a notable post-9/11 rise in Islamic themes in German literary texts regardless of their author’s background, outlined by Karin E. Yeşilada’s study of the “Muslim turn.” Yet the literary writing of Emine Sevgi Özdamar seems to contradict this trend. It is her publications in the early 1990s, not her post-9/11 work, that deal primarily with Islamic themes. Although her position within the many debates surrounding Islam in German society is more difficult to ascertain than that of other writers, such as Kermani, who have enthusiastically adopted the role of public intellectual, Özdamar’s early semi-autobiographical works of fiction, including the novel Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei hat zwei Türen aus einer kam ich rein aus der anderen ging ich raus (1992, henceforth Karawanserei) and the short story “Großvater Zunge” (the second story in the collection Mutterzunge, 1990), raise questions that are central to debates over Islam’s place in society, be it in Germany or Turkey.
Type of Material
Washington University in St. Louis
Status of Item
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License