"EINE ENTSCHEIDUNG FÜR DAS LEBEN": THE COMIC MODE IN ABBAS KHIDER’S NOVELS
Keywords:Abbas Khider, novel Der falsche Inder, German intercultural literature, humor, picaresque mode
The article addresses the structuring function and pivotal role of the comic in the writings of German-Iraqi author Abbas Khider, focusing primarily on his 2008 debut novel Der falsche Inder (The Village Indian) which as autopoetic fiction depicts in its cyclic narrative structure the horrible experiences of a young Iraqi man under a brutal dictatorial regime and tells of his equally disturbing experiences on his further escape route to his final destination in Germany. Seemingly, in an almost cynical contrast to this grim topicality, stands the novel’s general and cohesive humorous tone, its manifold comic elements and even its abundant physical comedy.
I argue, however, that actively employing a humorous mode of writing is firstly part and parcel of a literary survival strategy to partake in the healing process of past collective and personal traumata. Reading this novel as literature in the picaresque mode helps in understanding how this particular comic mode is furthermore used subversively by the author as a means to undermine established authoritative power structures as well as to revise “traditional” Western perceptions of the “refugee other” in an aesthetic act of resistance. Thus, Abbas Khider places himself not only in the Western humorous literary tradition but self-consciously expands its boundaries to include new modes of narration.