Navid Kermani

Article Works Projects www
Islam, mysticism, religion
Written and spoken word (general)
Middle East, Europe, Western
Iran (Islamic Republic of), Germany
created on:
April 28, 2005
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since May 29, 2009. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Navid Kermani
Navid Kermani. Courtesy Villa Massimo


Navid Kermani was born in Siegen in 1967, the fourth son of Iranian parents. After studying Drama, Philosophy and Islamic Studies in Cologne, Cairo and Bonn, he taught at the University of Bonn and worked as a literary and artistic director at the Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt and the Theater an der Ruhr in Mülheim. His dissertation, an extensive analysis of the reception of the Koran, which he completed in 1997, was awarded the Ernst-Bloch-Förderpreis in 2000 and has already been reprinted in several editions.
His book entitled ´Iran. Die Revolution der Kinder´ (2001 t: Iran. The children´s revolution) is the product of reports and essays which he published on the country as a writer for the ´Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung´ from 1995 onwards. Also in 2001, Kermani carried out with delicacy ´Ein Leben mit dem Islam´ (t: A life with Islam). It is the life story of the Egyptian scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, whose modern interpretation of the Koran not only earned him a reputation as a heretic, but also brought about the spectacular forced divorce from his wife.

The phenomenon of suicide bombers is the topic of ´Dynamit des Geistes. Martyrium, Islam und Nihilismus´ (2002 t: Dynamite of the Spirit. Martyrdom, Islam and Nihilism). ´Schöner neuer Orient. Berichte von Städten und Kriegen´ (2003 t: Beautiful new orient. Reports of cities and wars) is a collection of six reports on Muslim regions which, due to extremism and violent conflict, have become the subject of international debate. The thoroughly positive reviews were underscored by the Israeli sociologist Natan Sznaider – for him it is "one of the most important books on globalisation".

With the intensity of his virtuoso literary style, which in making regular reference to his own encounters and experiences attests to the authenticity of his reports, Kermani has set standards for the art of reportage and historiography. A native Iranian and a German citizen, Kermani is considered to be one of Germany´s leading scholars on Islam. He is at once an expert on and critic of the Islamic world and one of its most important mediators. In addition he has made a name for himself as an author, essayist and literary critic.

His book entitled ´Das Buch der von Neil Young Getöteten´ (2002 t: The book of those killed by Neil Young) is a homage to the Canadian musician and at the same time a narrative about life and death, written for people who are unfamiliar with Neil Young. ´Die Zeit´ identified a possible motive: "In the end this beautiful, intelligent little book is a homage to playing – on the stage of life."

For three years Kermani has held the post of Long-Term Fellow at the Berlin Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study). Last year he returned to Cologne, where he lives as a freelance writer with his wife and daughter. His latest book, ´40 Leben´ (2004 t: 40 Lives), was published this year and explores the mysticism of everyday life in the form of forty narratives.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)


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Published Written


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

1989 - Global Histories

Theme days

(19 February 09 - 22 February 09)


International Festival of Literature Berlin

Homepage of the artist

in German