The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview

6
Wir haben ihnen Romanautoren gesandt": Aras Ören's Eine verspätete Abrechnung and Güney Dal's Der enthaarte Affe

SUSAN KASSOUF

In this chapter I propose the thesis that Ausländerliteratur [foreigner literature], a problematic area of inquiry in German studies throughout the 1980s, is now undergoing a conceptual shift: earlier emphasis on workers' politics and the Ausländer [foreigner] status moves now toward an increased concern with the politics of aesthetics and the relation between worker and artist. I examine this movement in two current novels, Aras Oren Eine verspätete Abrechnung ( 1988) and Güney Dal's Der enthaaite Affe ( 1988). Both novels revolve around the relationship between a Turkish worker and writer living in West Berlin. Whereas the worker has figured often in Ausländerliteratur, the writer has not; earlier identification between writer and worker is thus complicated. Ören and Dal's desire to be taken seriously as writers, not as Third World sociological phenomena, may be seen as cause and effect of the similar character configuration and the aesthetic issues raised. Both books may be read as commentaries on the category of Ausländerliteratur itself. Referring to the Gastarbeiter [guest workers], Max Frisch once wrote, "Man hat Arbeitskräfte gertifen, aber es kamen Menschen" ["A labor force was called, but human beings came instead"]. Güney Dal's modification of this is well worth noting and it is in this spirit I explore the novel: "Wir haben ihnen Romanautoren gesandt" ["We have sent them novelists"].

Aras Ören montage novel Eine verspätete Abrechnung, Der Aufstieg des Gundogdus [A Delayed Settlement. The Rise of Gundogdu] focuses on the lives of the first-person narrator, a Turkish writer, and Ibrahim Gundogdu, an economically successful Turkish worker. They encounter one another three times: in Turkey, in the train ride from Turkey to Germany, and on the streets of Berlin twenty years later, where the novel begins. In Turkey, the two meet

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