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"Meine eigene Geschichte": Identity Construction Through Reading in Abbas Khider's Der falsche Inder


This article examines issues of authorship, identity, and narrative form in Abbas Khider’s 2008 novel Der falsche Inder as developed through its thematization of reading. The novel presents a narrative of twenty-first century forced migration that challenges general assumptions about the identity formation of migrants by staging interventions in established discourses on literary authority and authenticity. While tropes of writing and authorship tend to dominate such discourses, the novel’s focus on reading, largely overlooked in the scholarship on the novel to date, repositions the debate. By undercutting romanticized notions of authorship and originality with the physical, material, and economic realities of migration, the novel exposes the bourgeois preconditions of such romanticized notions. This article argues that the novel’s depiction of identity construction revolving around reading instead of writing foregrounds the power of readers to construct not only their own identity but also that of the figures they read about. The novel destabilizes notions of identity for both migrant and author figures by focusing on the constructive power readers have in shaping the identities of migrants and their narratives. Literary theories of narration and reading as well as social theories of form and formation elucidate the novel’s critique of the current fetishization of originality and authenticity in the public literary discourse on so-called Migrations- or Migrantenliteratur.

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