This academic year, the department inaugurated a writer in residence program. With support of the Max Kade Foundation, we invited German novelist, writer, and spoken-word artist Selim Özdoğan to join the faculty during the Fall term. A bilingual German author of Turkish heritage, Selim was born in Adana, Turkey in 1971 and moved to Germany at a young age. His first novel, Es ist so einsam im Sattel, seit das Pferd tot ist (It’s so Lonesome in the Saddle Since the Horse Died) was published in 1995. He has since published ten novels and four short story collections (see list below). He is currently completing the last novel of a trilogy centered around the experiences of Gül, from her early years as a young woman growing up in rural Turkey during the 1940s (Die Tochter des Schmieds), through her arrival and gradual integration in Germany (Heimstraße 52), to the final installment whose publication we now eagerly await. The recipient of the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize Förderpreis in 1999, Selim has held fellowships from diverse organizations such as the Literaturbüro NRW (2006), the Arts Foundation of North-Rhine Westphalia (2014), and the Robert Bosch Stiftung (2015). Selim has also collaborated with the film director Fatih Akin (Gegen die Wand; Auf der anderen Seite), written a weekly column for Zeit Online and has substantial experience working with students at different levels. At the core of his residency with the department stands a one-credit writing workshop, which meets for two hours a week over the course of seven weeks. In the course, students learn about literature and its techniques by creating their own short story.
Since his arrival at the beginning of September, Selim has also visited a number of classes within the Department, ranging from our workshop in literary translation to seminars in literature and culture. He also read from and discussed his writings at a Symposium on Contemporary German Literature in September, participated in the live performance of Esther Dischereit’s Blumen für Otello (Flowers for Otello) this October, and traveled to other University campuses in the US for readings and discussions. During his last visit, which took him to the University of Texas at Austin, Selim gave an interview to the Austin Chronicle, entitled “Looking from the Outside.” In the interview, he describes the impact that the recently deceased Leonard Cohen had on his own writing, muses on his American experience in the “bubble” that is Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, responds to the recent election in the US and the situation in Turkey, compares German and American politics, notes the differences between his fictional characters and himself and riffs on the complicated German notion of Heimat.
The final public event of Selim Özdoğan’s residency is scheduled for Monday, December 5 at 5:30 pm in the Osterman Common Room (located on the ground floor of 202 S. Thayer). On this evening, Selim will read from his most recent novel, Wieso Heimat, ich wohne zur Miete?, which details its unlikely protagonist, Krishna Mustafa’s, search for his roots in Istanbul. At once humorous, pointed, and poetic, this novel engages with a tradition of satire in Turkish literature, at the same time that it offers an indirect reflection on identity politics in Germany and provides a thoughtful commentary on the political situation in Turkey following the Gezi Park protests.
Es ist so einsam im Sattel, seit das Pferd tot ist (1995)
Nirgendwo & Hormone (1996)
Im Juli (2000)
Ein Spiel, das die Götter sich leisten (2002)
Die Tochter des Schmieds (2005)
Zwischen zwei Träumen (2009)
Heimstraße 52 (2011)
Kopfstand im Karma-Taxi, Bekenntnisse eines Pranajunkies (2012)
Wieso Heimat, ich wohne zur Miete (2016)
Short Story Collections
Ein gutes Leben ist die beste Rache (1998)
Trinkgeld vom Schicksal (2003)
Ein Glas Blut (2010)
Der Klang der Blicke (2012)