Rafik Shami

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The Syrian-German writer Rafik Schami held the Brothers Grimm Professorship in the summer semester of 2010. With Schami, the University of Kassel invited a literary figure who for years has endeavored to bring the worlds of the Orient and Occident closer together.

From May 19 to 21, in a series of events, Schami directed the focus to the art of storytelling itself - along with politics, another central theme of his prose.

Image: Heike Huslage-Koch (Wikimedia Commons; CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Rafik Shami (Frankfurt Book Fair 2016)

Born in Damascus in 1946 and living in Germany since 1971, Schami holds a doctorate in chemistry. Already in Syria, he was involved in literature as founder and author of the wall newspaper Al-Muntalek (German: Ausgangspunkt), which was banned in 1969. Shami's diverse oeuvre encompasses almost all literary genres: from novels for young and old, to political essays and satires, to plays and radio plays. In his texts, he repeatedly combines a seemingly naïve infatuation with traditional Oriental fabulism with an alert eye for delicate political circumstances and dangers. His most important works include: A Handful of Stars (1987), Narrators of the Night (1989), The Honest Liar (1992), and the great novel The Dark Side of Love (2004), which was highly acclaimed by literary critics.

GPP events with Rafik Schami

In the lecture "Orality as Salvation" on May 19 at 7 p.m., the author dealt in particular with the original form of existence of storytelling. On May 20 at 4 p.m., there was a public seminar entitled "Village Square Stories," and on May 21, Schami offered a public storytelling session. All events took place in the lecture hall of the Kassel University of the Arts (Menzelstraße 13-15, Nordbau A).

Prizes and awards (selection):

  • 1989 Smelik-Kiggen Prize (Netherlands)
  • 1990 Phantastik Prize of the City of Wetzlar
  • 1991 Mildred L. Batchelder Award (USA)
  • 1993 Adelbert von Chamisso Prize
  • 1994 Hermann Hesse Prize
  • 1997 Storytelling World Award (USA)
  • 2007 Nelly Sachs Prize
  • 2011 Georg K. Glaser Prize
  • 2011 Prize Against Forgetting - For Democracy