German-Turkish literature

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German-Turkish literature or Turkish-German literature is the literature of German-Turkish writers. It is subsumed under intercultural literatures , including the relevant national literatures . Works by film authors of Turkish origin, as they sometimes manifest themselves in so-called German-Turkish cinema , are often considered to be a manifestation of this literature . Likewise, in the overall view, the literature created in Germany is included only for a certain period of time by Turkish authors working in the Federal Republic of Germany. Most of these are authors in exile , although it is not always possible to clearly distinguish them from actual immigration, and in some cases they are also DAAD scholarship holders .

An alternative definition of the term, which applies particularly to the more recent publications, is the description of German-Turkish literature as the literature of a German-Turkish cultural synthesis .

German-Turkish literature is the subject of German and Turkish Literature, the German and the Turkish studies .

History and generations

Sargut Şölçün was one of the first German literary scholars to distinguish between several generations of German-Turkish literature and pointed to the error of the perception of German-Turkish authors as a collective , which is partly still to be found today due to their common migration background . From the mid-1960s onwards, German-Turkish literature, which was just emerging, was primarily concerned with the literary processing of the writers' migration experiences (see e.g. Aras Ören ) and was therefore often referred to as migrant literature or migration literature. In the meantime, however, the immigrant situation as a reason for writing has largely been replaced by an independent German-Turkish point of view, from which the younger generations in particular write. German-Turkish literature has been used as a cross-national and integration-promoting element in German school lessons since the early 1980s. Until the mid-1990s, however, the number of independent German-language publications by German-Turkish writers in Germany was not even a hundred compared to today: poetry was the most widely published genre with around 30 volumes of poetry and long poems, only a little more than half as many short stories appear until then. The emergence of a previously only sporadic phenomenon in the German-Turkish literary scene in the 1990s, the novel, the number of which also approached twenty within a very short time, ultimately indicated the following rapid development of the at that time still mainly as Migrant literature designated literature as a full literature; Evidence of this were also the first volumes with satires from the 1980s, for example by Şinasi Dikmen , original radio plays such as that by Erdal Merdan and a number of books for children and young people. In the meantime, all genres from children's books to theater literature (which initially hardly appeared in print) are served in a large number of publications.

To German-language literature

Migration literature

Phase 1: Migration as a problem area

Even from the first generation of immigrants from Turkey, some emerged writing in German, mainly with poetry and short prose. This literature is still primarily concerned with one's own, often bitterly experienced, situation as a migrant.

From the early 1980s, the German-language publications of authors of Turkish origin (some of them from the second generation) rose sharply, not insignificantly supported by a literary competition of the Munich Institute for German as a Foreign Language (1979 ff.): "Reports, stories "Gedichte" soon appeared in numerous anthologies with titles such as Living In Two Languages (1983) or Turks German Language (1984).

However, the focus of German-Turkish literary topics in the 1970s and early 1980s was still on problems of integration, foreignness in the new living environment and longing for the Turkish homeland, whereby the migrant's work situation was dealt with in literary terms. Even writers such as Fakir Baykurt , who had already made a strong literary presence in Turkey , began after their emigration to deal primarily with the everyday life of Turkish migrant workers in their Turkish or German-language work.

Arnold Rothe pointed out in the early 1990s that it was by no means a matter of fact

a literature (act) that only has migration as its object. Such a restriction would reduce literature to the most insignificant of its aspects, the material, and degrade the authors to exotic species who can only claim curiosity as long as they remain in their reserve .

Nevertheless, at this point in time, the Romance studies critic still complained that Turkish-German literature had largely grown out of personal concern.

Phase 2: Migration as an opportunity

From the mid-1980s, according to Islamic scholar Renate Dieterich (2000), German-Turkish literature focuses on the positive impulses of life between two home countries. Migration is increasingly seen as an opportunity.

Literature from a German-Turkish perspective

In the meantime, there are German-language publications of every type and content within German-Turkish literature. Most of them today come either from the German-speaking area or from authors who grew up in the German-speaking area and in Turkey. The works of this younger generation in particular are shaped by a German-Turkish point of view of the writers, but deal with content that mostly has nothing to do with their biculturalism, but only use them as a more or less self-evident background. In doing so, they are or have been in such different areas as high literature and theater literature - e.g. B. Feridun Zaimoğlu , detective novel  - like Akif Pirinçci , film and television script -  Fatih Akin or Bora Drachtkin  - satire and children's and young people's books ( Kemal Kurt ) successful. An expertise announcement by the Thomas-More-Akademie in Bensberg terminates the beginning of this so far most recent phase in the still short history of German-language literature by authors of Turkish origin or descent towards the end of the 1990s, when

clearly (have) been able to establish Turkish-German literature at the highest level .

Her not infrequently critical preoccupation with how cultural identity is “constructed socially and therefore communicatively” (Edgar Landgraf) is seen as a particular advantage of intercultural literature.

To the reception

At home

The reception of German-Turkish literature in Germany is roughly divided into two phases by literary studies. First of all, the one in which German-Turkish literary products according to Michael Hofmann

still referred to as guest worker literature, where it was actually about only presenting the negative treatment of foreigners in Germany. There has been talk of a kind of social worker attitude among German readers.

In the meantime, however, German-Turkish literature is no longer read

because the Germans still have the feeling that they have to watch these (...) texts or films to atone for a debt because they treat the Turks badly ,

Rather, one is interested in the very unfamiliar view of (one's own) reality.

After quite a few German-Turkish authors barely managed to get beyond a book publication, let alone work as freelance writers (Aras Ören, Akif Pirinçci and - if you want to add them to the German literary scene despite their only decade -long participation - Aysel Özakin stayed for a long time For the time being the only ones who succeeded), since the 1990s there has been a growing interest in German-Turkish literature in general, not only on the part of literary scholars , but also among the readership.

In the field of theater literature, Emine Sevgi Özdamar was the first German author of Turkish origin to reach a larger audience. Her first play, the comedy Karagöz in Alamania (created in 1982), was premiered in 1986 at the Schauspiel Frankfurt with great media interest . German plays by authors such as Feridun Zaimoglu or Nuran David Çalış are now regularly on the repertoire of German-speaking theaters.

On the other hand, some literary scholars, including Sargut Sölcün, see problems with the acceptance of this literature in the German literary scene, especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , which triggered a certain general fear of Muslim fundamentalism in large parts of the reading public. The fact that literarily questionable reports about experiences of oppressed German-Turkish women often seem to be better received by the audience and are also more present in the German media world than the numerous high-quality German-Turkish literary products seems to prove this thesis.

Outlook / guest country Frankfurt Book Fair 2008

In 2006, Juergen Boos and the Turkish Minister of Culture Atilla Koç signed a contract in Ankara that made Turkey the guest country of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008. According to press reports, Boos put this decision in concrete connection with the fact that around 2.5 million people of Turkish origin lived in Germany and that this resulted in an independent German-Turkish literature, but despite the special relationship between the two countries, Germans only know modern Turkish literature sporadically is. According to many literary scholars, Turkey as the host country at the 2008 Book Fair in connection with the surprising awarding of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature to Orhan Pamuk (who was thus the first Turk to ever receive a Nobel Prize ) can achieve even greater awareness and acceptance in the next few years both Turkish and German-Turkish literature than was previously available in German-speaking countries.


In Turkey

Literature products by German-Turkish authors that have been translated into the Turkish language are received in Turkey with a special focus on ways in which the Turkish cultural world can open up to a western one.

In other foreign countries

Abroad beyond the Federal Republic and Turkey, some writers from the group discussed here are simply perceived as important German authors - among them are prominent German authors such as Özdamar, but also little-known ones such as Zafer Şenocak , who among other things is one of the contemporary German studies in the USA belongs to the most discussed representatives of German literature.

On Turkish-language literature

A number of representatives of German-Turkish literature also or exclusively use their mother tongue in their literary work. Some of them first publish in Turkey and are later translated into German. This also includes writers who write primarily for the Turkish community in Germany, but also authors who became known as Turkish writers before their emigration, such as Yüksel Pazarkaya , who also works in German, or Aras Ören, the first holder of the Adelbert-von -Chamisso Prize .

Although he was not a migrant himself, the story Almanya Almanya (1965) by Nevzat Üstün is often perceived as the first work of Turkish migrant literature. In fact, neither at this early point in time, nor when Bekir Yildiz entered the literary stage a year later , could one speak of a Turkish migrant literature, because it was just emerging. The folk song researcher Dr. Ali Osman Öztürk also sees the initially unprinted German-Turkish Gurbet Türküleri , of which he was able to collect 115 for a scientific study, as "oral pioneers" of Turkish emigration literature.

Except in the formal sense - the writers who stayed in their mother tongue used e.g. B. from the beginning a longer form - this literature should not be viewed in isolation from the German-speaking “twin sister”. Their material development can be described as largely analogous. In addition, a number of writers now design their works mainly for publication in German translation.

While the number of authors of Turkish origin who work in German has increased sharply since the 1990s, the number of Turkish-writing writers is falling.

To the reception

The Turkish-language literature of German-Turkish writers was initially received exclusively by a Turkish-speaking readership due to the lack of available translations.

According to the literary scholar Mediha Göbenli in her study "Migrant literature " in comparison: German-Turkish and Indo-English literature (2006)

Most of the first generation authors addressed the problems caused by migration in order to perform some kind of therapeutic task .

The German literary scene first became more aware of the phenomenon of German-Turkish literature when the Berlin author Aras Ören , who had been working in Germany since 1969, wrote his extensive poem What does Niyazi want in Naunynstrasse in 1973 ? published in German translation by Rotbuch-Verlag .

In this context, Peter Stein's founding of a Turkish ensemble at the Berlin Schaubühne in 1979 should also be mentioned, which ensured that Turkish-language literary products from Germany (such as Meray Ülgen 's children's plays ) became more popular.

See also


  • Alois Wierlacher, Andrea Bogner (Ed.): Handbook Intercultural German Studies. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2003
  • Carmine Chiellino (Ed.): Intercultural Literature in Germany. A manual. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2000
  • Leslie A. Adelson : The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature: Toward a New Critical Grammar of Migration . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 ISBN 1403969132 .
  • Diana Schäffler: German film with a Turkish soul. Developments and tendencies in German-Turkish films from the 1970s to the present. VDM Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2007

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Hayrunisa Topcu: Avrupa ve Amerika'da Türk Edebiyati (PDF file; approx. 380 kB) , In: Turkish Studies, Vol. 4, 2009