Navid Kermani [ Germany ]
Navid Kermani was born in Siegen in 1967, the fourth son of Iranian parents. After studying Drama, Philosophy and Islamic Studies in Cologne, Cairo and Bonn, he taught at the University of Bonn and worked as a literary and artistic director at the Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt and the Theater an der Ruhr in Mülheim. His doctoral thesis, an extensive analysis of the reception of the Koran, which he completed in 1997, was awarded the Ernst-Bloch-Förderpreis in 2000 and has already been reprinted in several editions.
His book entitled "Iran. Die Revolution der Kinder" (2001; t: Iran. The children's revolution) is the product of reports and essays which he had published on the country for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" from 1995 onwards. In 2001 Kermani wrote "Ein Leben mit dem Islam" (t: A life with Islam), which is acclaimed for its sensitive treatment of a delicate subject. It is the life story of the Egyptian scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, whose modern interpretation of the Koran not only earned him a reputation as a heretic, but also brought about the spectacular forced divorce from his wife. The phenomenon of suicide bombers is the topic of "Dyna mit des Geistes. Martyrium, Islam und Nihilismus" (2002; t: Dyna mit e of the Spirit. Martyrdom, Islam and Nihilism). "Schöner neuer Orient" (2003; t: Beautiful new orient) is a collection of six reports on Muslim regions which, due to extremism and violent conflict, have become the subject of international debate. The thoroughly positive reviews were underscored by the Israeli sociologist Natan Sznaider – for him it is "one of the most important books on globalisation".
With the intensity of his virtuoso literary style, which in making regular reference to his own encounters and experiences attests to the authenticity of his reports, Kermani has set standards for the art of reportage and historiography. A native Iranian and a German citizen, Kermani is considered to be one of Germany's leading scholars on Islam. He is at once an expert on, and critic of, the Islamic world and one of its most important mediators. Also he has made a name for himself as an author, essayist and literary critic. His book entitled "Das Buch der von Neil Young Getöteten" (2002; t: The book of those killed by Neil Young) is a homage to the Canadian musician, and at the same time a narrative about life and death, written for people who are unfamiliar with Neil Young. "Die Zeit" identified a possible motive: "In the end this beautiful, intelligent little book is a homage to playing – on the stage of life." His most recent novel »Kurz mit telung« (2007, t: Short message) takes an unexpected death as the starting point for a web of reflexions on the conditions of our society. Kermani was Long Term Fellow at Berlin's Wissenschaftskolleg. He lives in Cologne.
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