Kermani, Navid "Between Quran and Kafka: West-Eastern Affinities" (German: Zwischen Koran und Kafka. West-östliche Erkundungen) - 2014
Navid Kermani is a German author with Iranian parents. He is an Orientalist and received the renowned Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2015 and this is my second book I read by him. The first one, "Dein Name" [Your name] has not been translated into English (yet!) but this one has.
A rather interesting approach to both Islam and German writers, both classic and modern from someone who has a great knowledge about both. Even if you don't know anything about either, Navid Kermani gets you closer to them. This certainly is a book that gets you thinking.
He also includes some great speeches he was invited to give at certain official German and Austrian events, like the celebration of 65 years of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (German constitution). All of them highly interesting.
From the back cover:
"What connects Shiite passion plays with Brecht s drama? Which of Goethe's poems were inspired by the Quran? How can Ibn Arabi s theology of sighs explain the plays of Heinrich von Kleist? And why did the Persian author Sadeq Hedayat identify with the Prague Jew Franz Kafka?
One who knows himself and others will here too understand: Orient and Occident are no longer separable: in this new book, the critically acclaimed author and scholar Navid Kermani takes Goethe at his word. He reads the Quran as a poetic text, opens Eastern literature to Western readers, unveils the mystical dimension in the works of Goethe and Kleist, and deciphers the political implications of theatre, from Shakespeare to Lessing to Brecht. Drawing striking comparisons between diverse literary traditions and cultures, Kermani argues for a literary cosmopolitanism that is opposed to all those who would play religions and cultures against one another, isolating them from one another by force. Between Quran and Kafka concludes with Kermani s speech on receiving Germany s highest literary prize, an impassioned plea for greater fraternity in the face of the tyranny and terrorism of Islamic State.
Kermani s personal assimilation of the classics gives his work that topical urgency that distinguishes universal literature when it speaks to our most intimate feelings. For, of course, love too lies between Quran and Kafka."