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THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER

Volker Kaminski reviews Sakarija Tamer: Die Hinrichtung des Todes. Unbekannte Geschichten von bekannten Figuren. Lenos Verlag, Basel, 2004. ISBN: 9783857873577, hbk, 139pp Zakaria Tamer: The Execution of Death. Unknown Stories of Well-known Figures. Translated from the Arabic by Hartmut Fähndrich and Ulrike Stehli-Werbeck

Full of wit and cryptic comedy

Readers opening Zakaria Tamer’s short story collection The Execution of Death for the first time will rub their eyes in astonishment. Tamer’s stories may feature the well-known caliphs, viziers and heroes from Arab-Islamic mythology, but the adventures that Sindbad, Scheherazade, Harun al-Rashid and Genghis Khan go on here are neither historically documented nor to be found in the original myths and fairytales. Tamer takes up familiar subjects, but he changes the stories at will.

Like a kaleidoscope, Tamer dismantles and deconstructs the classical material, and puts it back together to form new patterns. This has great advantages: instead of making an attempt to revive a longdead storytelling tradition, Tamer breaks out of all historical limitations. He loads the old stories with all kinds of absurd elements, and transports the mythical characters into unexpected and occasionally grotesque situations, where they survive their classic adventures with a lot less glitter and glory than in their gilded mythological world.

110 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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