SEE authors abroad

posted by sabine Ballata on 2005/06/10 20:14

[ SEE authors abroad ]

Beqë Cufaj read last night at the Hauptbücherei of Vienna from his book ”Der Glanz der Fremde” (orig. Shkëlqimi i huaj) that has been published in the German translation of Joachim Röhm by Zsolnay.

Beqë Cufaj, born 1970 in Kosova/o, studied linguistics and literature in Prishtina. He is now living near Stuttgart and working as a journalist for international newspapers (i.e. Die Zeit, FAZ, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Courrier International).

In 2000, Zsolnay published his collection of essays ”Kosova – Rückkehr in ein verwüstetes Land”.

Reviews (Die Zeit, Falter) – apart from having a few difficulties with one of the main characters' names, Rifat – generally praised “Der Glanz der Fremde”, though Sibylle Becker-Grüll (Die Zeit) was not quite satisfied with the construction of the plot and the development of the characters, while Stefan Kister taz called it “große Literatur”.

The two main questions that came up for discussion last night were about two different but closely related aspects of migration: first, what can one keep from his/her “home” in the new place, and second, why the two characters that would be unlikely to become friends or even meet under other circumstances suddenly bother with each other in exile.

Mr. Cufaj explained that he wasn’t trying to answer any of these questions about migration with his novel – he simply wanted to write a story, thus breaking away from his usual journalistic work, using writing as a form of liberation; nonetheless, research and information form the bases for his literary texts. Rifat’s story thus is the story behind “real life” dramas we often read about in the press. That mechanism of“(stereo-)typical” headlines about migrants, Cufaj’s text contrasts with the ambivalence and complexity of individual and common experiences. It seems that the need for “understanding” migration better, which may well be what the German-speaking readers expect and perhaps even demand from novels like this, cannot and should not be fulfilled with logical answers and explanations – instead, new questions and chances for communication arise that hopefully open up different ways of looking at migration.

Interesting links about the author: Eurozine: Summer Story or Europe between division and union, Liisa Litblog about “Kosova-Rückkehr in ein verwüstetes Land”


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The imagineSEE-weblog is a space about ideas, images, (re)inventions and (re)constructions of and about the Balkans, from outside and within SEE.

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This is a part of the collage 'The Black File' by Croatian artist Sanja Ivekovic, who will be represented at documenta 12 (16/6-23/9) in Kassel this year.

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