Fatma Aydemir (Karlsruhe, 1986) is a major voice in German literature, since her debut novel Ellbogen (2017), and especially since her second novel Dschinns (2022). Aydemir’s grandparents came as guest workers to Germany when her parents were teenagers. She studied German and American Studies in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2012 Aydemir has lived in Berlin and worked as an editor for the daily newspaper taz, where she deals with pop culture, literature and Turkey.
Ellbogen tells a story of escalating violence in a subway station, and of lives in and between Germany and Turkey. Dschinss, shortlisted for the Deutscher Buchpreis, is an ambitious family novel that gives full force to the voices of parents and children, husband and wive, parent and child. It consolidated Aydemir’s name as one of Europe’s leading literary voices and as a chronicler of diasporic lives; of Germany as a conflicted, sometimes hostile and at the same time inspiring country, and Turkey as a reluctant and troubled home country.
After the lecture, Fatma Aydemir will engage in conversation with novelist Simone Atangana Bekono, honorary fellow 2022-23 at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam. Margot Dijkgraaf, writer and literary critic, will host the conversation.
The State of European Literature
The State of European Literature is an annual lecture delivered by a renowned author or poet of international stature, about the state of literature and the state of Europe through the perspective of literature.
Today, the languages of Europe continue to write and tell stories about the continent, its intimate lives, neighbors and about its shifting position in the present, past and future. Due to political polarization and the contestation of the actual fact of the matter of the continent’s present condition (whether it is about the tectonic shifts in geopolitics, transnational legacies such as colonialism, but also climate change, the division of wealth, or the demographic future of Europe), there is a renewed urge for the truth of literary fiction and the power and precision of poetic expression. Whether it is about the alleged limits to the literary imagination in discussions about identity, emancipation, gender, decolonization, or in the field of contested memories, or about the growing predominance of English as a common European language, literature today seems as vital as ever. The State of European Literature wishes to enhance awareness of the pivotal role of the key values of literature and culture for the current and future state of Europe: curiosity, imagination, reflection, critique, translation, eloquence, tradition, invention (in random order).
Previous speakers were Philipp Blom (2020), Nelleke Noordervliet (2021), and Alain Mabanckou (2022).
The 2023 edition of the State of European Literature is hosted by the UvA-Faculty of Humanities and SPUI25, and supported by ACES (the Amsterdam Center of European Studies), ARTES (Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies), OSL (Onderzoeksschool Literatuurwetenschap) and DIA (Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam).