The Stories of Rafik Schami as Reflections of His Psychopolitical Program
As one of the founding members of the "Polynationaler Literatur- und Kunstverein" (PoliKunst) ["Polinational Literature and Art Association," or Political Art], now generally recognized as one of the three major trends in the genre Ausländerliteratur [Foreigner Literature], 1 Rafik Schami has delighted millions with his fairytales, fables, and fantastic stories. But while the general population as well as literary societies have discovered Schami's gifts, his work has gone largely unrecognized in the secondary literature. There have been numerous newspaper reviews concerning his work, but of the four booklength studies available on Ausländerliteratur, only one, Ulrike Reeg Schreiben in der Fremde, deals at any length with his texts. 2
Born in Damascus in 1946 of parents from the Christian-Aramaic town of Malula and having moved to West Germany in 1971, Schami creates texts that are more than worthy of critical attention. His stories incorporate a psychopolitical agenda while blending the literary traditions of both the Arabic and the German worlds. This presentation of a multicultural world in his texts allows him simultaneously to portray environments familiar and unfamiliar to his German and foreigner audience.
The reasons for choosing Schami's work as the subject of this chapter are numerous. He has written many short stories, articles, and books 3 and received several literary prizes, 4 but particularly interesting for the university readership is his clearly delineated psychopolitical program for foreigner literature, or what he refers to as Gastarbeiterliteratur [guest worker literature], 5 detailed in articles published in Linkskurve in 1983 and Kommune in 1985. 6 It is my intention to examine how and to what degree this psychopolitical program informs four texts, chosen for their thematic content,