“Sexuality is something divine”

Navid Kermani © Arne Dedert

In this romance novel, religion is not neglected either, the refugee ie is touched upon. And the reader learns who, from the point of view of the intellectual Navid Kermani, really has something to say in matters of love.

It's all about love. About sexuality, marriage, longing, loss – and not least about German normalities. Cologne-based writer Navid Kermani has a new book, "Sozusagen Paris," coming out this Monday. Although it's not his first novel to be about love – "Great Love" from 2014, for example – the publicist is currently more in the public discussion with a different topic. Could Kermani become a candidate for the office of Federal President next year??

Moral authority

Again and again, his name comes up in this question. In any case, Kermani is regarded by many people as a moral authority. This was recently stated in the jury's statement for the Marion Donhoff Prize, which the winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade will receive in December. In the new book, the narrator, or rather the novelist, says that on podiums he seems to be able to radiate a sovereignty, serenity, "yes, supposedly even wisdom".

Many people would also like to see these attributes in a German head of state.

Helpful also for one who reflects on love. In the new book, the narrator meets his childhood sweetheart after 30 years following a reading in a small provincial town. The woman in question is Jutta, who already appears in Kermani's novel "Great Love. "For Jutta, I am Paris, so to speak!"thinks the well-traveled narrator – until he realizes that the woman is the mayor of the place and is not dependent on his supposed glamor. It solves problems such as waste separation and traffic light circuits.

Again and again references to religions and religious

The author spends a night in their living room with increasingly tearful and tired conversations about their difficult marriage, love and sex – it does not come to that between the two of them. On the other hand, Jutta, who was brought up in a strictly religious way, puts forward theses such as that "sexuality is something divine". In any case, Kermani, who with "Unbelieving Amazement" has written a much-acclaimed book about aspects of Christianity and Christian art, does not spare brief references to religions and religious things.

Caught in a thousand banalities

In addition, there are other levels: The narrator scrutinizes Jutta's bookshelf, and Kermani repeatedly quotes Marcel Proust and other, mostly French, 19th-century authors on this occasion. and early 20. Century. Beyond that, he digresses to his editor and the reader, conversing with them about the novel he has yet to write and addressing the reader directly.

There is no one who speaks more intelligently about love than Proust or Stendhal, says Kermani in a recent interview with "Die Zeit". In view of the disparity that arises between this claim and Jutta's statements, which at times seem strained and banal, Kermani goes on to explain: "I can only say that I myself live out this contradiction day after day. And often in the same minute. I read or experience the most sublime things and at the same time I am caught in a thousand banalities." The mentioned discrepancy makes people "lurch in matters of love" and constitutes the novel.

Respected interlocutor

In it, Kermani also alludes to the refugee ie, integration, foreignness and the opening of German borders to those seeking protection a year ago. The reader is reminded of Kermani's highly praised speech on the occasion of 65 years of the Basic Law two years ago: He said in it that Germany is a nation "that would rather meet the strangers a little too friendly, too guilelessly, than to ever again fall prey to xenophobia, to arrogance ".

The Orientalist has become a respected contact person on the topics of religion, culture and integration. In "Unbelieving Amazement" he has knowledgeably dealt with Christianity. Is however a Muslim as German head of state at present conceivable? Recently, for example, the Islamic scholar Lamya Kaddor had denied this. And Kermani? Gives himself buttoned up. When asked in the "Zeit" interview whether it would be conceivable for him to be chosen as a candidate, he says

scarce: "I do not want to answer questions that do not arise."

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Christina Cherry
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