Arjouni, Jakob 1964–

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Arjouni, Jakob 1964–

PERSONAL: Born October 8, 1964, in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany. Ethnicity: "Turkish."

ADDRESSES: Home—6 Avenue des corbieres, 11120 Ginestas, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Diogenes Verlag, Sprecherstrasse 8, CH-8032 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Author of novels, stage plays, radio plays, and short stories.

AWARDS, HONORS: German Thriller Prize, 1992, for Ein Mann, ein mord.

WRITINGS:

"KEMAL KAYANKAYA" MYSTERY NOVELS

Happy Birthday, Türke!, Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1987, translation by Anselm Hollo published as Happy Birthday, Turk!, Fromm International (New York, NY), 1993.

Mehr Bier (title means "More Beer"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1987, translation by Anselm Hollo published as And Still Drink More!, Fromm International (New York, NY), 1994, published in England as More Beer, No Exit (London, England), 2000.

Ein Mann, ein mord, Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1991, translation by Anselm Hollo published as One Death to Die, Fromm International (New York, NY), 1997, published in England as One Man, One Murder, No Exit (London, England), 1997.

Kismet (title means "Fate"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 2001.

OTHER

Edelmanns Tochter: Theaterstück (play; title means "Edelmann's Daughter"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1996.

Magic Hoffmann (novel), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1996.

Ein Freund: Geschichten (short stories; title means "A Friend"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1998.

Nazim schiebt ab (play; title means "Nazim Goes Away"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1998.

Die Garaden (play; title means "The Garages"), Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 1998.

Idioten: Fünf Märchen, Diogenes Verlag (Zürich, Switzerland), 2003, translation by Anthea Bell published as Idiots: Five Fairy Tales and Other Stories, Other Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of Hausaufgaben (title means "Homework").

SIDELIGHTS: Jakob Arjouni is a German-born author of Turkish descent who has realized success as a mystery novelist and short story writer. Arjouni's detective novels feature hardened private investigator Kemal Kayankaya, a disillusioned Turk living in Germany and suffering that nation's subtle prejudices. Arjouni introduced Kayankaya in Happy Birthday, Türke! (published in translation as Happy Birthday, Turk!), in which the character probes the mysterious death of a Turkish immigrant who had apparently been stabbed while he visited the seamy prostitution section of Frankfurt. Upon being hired by the victim's widow, Kayankaya soon finds himself the target of vicious thugs. But he perseveres in his investigation and eventually uncovers the existence of a drug ring that profits from the plight of Frankfurt's Turkish inhabitants. A contributor reviewing Happy Birthday, Turk! in Publishers Weekly reported that "every genre cliché about the hard-drinking, smart-mouthed gumshoe is shamelessly overemployed." in the novel. However, a Kirkus Reviews critic called Happy Birthday, Turk! "a blistering debut" and described Kayankaya as "a perfect hardboiled detective." Another reviewer, Pat Dowell, wrote in the Washington Post Book World of Arjouni's "poetic hardboiled patter."

Subsequent Kayankaya novels cover similar ground, with emphasis on the bias shown by Germans to immigrants from many nations. Mehr Bier (published in translation in the United States as And Still Drink More! and in England as More Beer) concerns ecoterrorism and conspiracy centered upon a chemical plant. In the tale Ein Mann, ein mord (published in translation in the United States as One Death to Die and in England as One Man, One Murder), the private investigator undertakes a search for an artist's missing girlfriend. Kayankaya's quest leads him into Frankfurt's sordid underworld, where he learns that immigrant women—including, perhaps, his client's girlfriend, who is of Asian descent—are being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Neil Spencer, writing in the London Observer, noted that the novel is "sparingly … written in Dashiell Hammett's style," and Booklist reviewer Bill Ott commented on Arjouni's "eye-opening view of the underside of German society." A Publishers Weekly critic described the Kayankaya novels as a "pungent series" and observed that in One Death to Die Arjouni shows "a light touch for pithy description." Likewise, Dick Adler wrote in Chicago Tribune Books of the novel's "twisty surprises." The reviewer also considered Anselm Hollo's translation "fine" work. Still another reviewer, Marilyn Stasio, maintained in the New York Times Book Review that One Death to Die constitutes an "acidly funny escapade" and Kayankaya a "cocky gumshoe."

Arjouni's collection of short stories, Idioten: Fünf Märchen, translated as Idiots: Five Fairy Tales and Other Stories, updates the fantastic and applies it to modern-day circumstances. In the first five stories, hapless egotists are allowed one wish by helpful—if not always capable—fairies. The other pieces likewise include magical realism as they confront modern nihilism and torpor. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that Arjouni "weaves lively, ironic tales about desperate folk at the edges of contemporary German society." A Kirkus Reviews critic liked the "crafty, contemporary tales," observing that in them, Arjouni" shifts his creative talents and humor into overdrive."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1993, Jay Freeman, review of Happy Birthday, Turk!, p. 504; March 15, 1997, Bill Ott, review of One Death to Die, p. 1228.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1993, review of Happy Birthday, Turk!, p. 1029; March 1, 2005, review of Idiots: Five Fairy Tales and Other Stories, p. 241.

New York Times Book Review, March 30, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of One Death to Die, p. 23.

Observer (London, England), April 20, 1997, Neil Spencer, "OK, Somerset Is Not an Obvious Setting for a Car Chase, but at Least We've Moved On from Dixon of Dock Green," p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, September 6, 1993, review of Happy Birthday, Turk!, p. 86; February 10, 1997, review of One Death to Die, p. 71; April 11, 2005, review of Idiots, p. 32.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 2, 1997, Dick Adler, "A World of Sleuths," p. 5.

Washington Post Book World, October 17, 1993, Pat Dowell, "Turkish Attitude," p. 8.

ONLINE

No Exit, http://www.noexit.co.uk/ (October 25, 2005).

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