On Literature

    About Fikrun

    Fikrun wa Fann was a cultural magazine published by the Goethe Institute from 1963 to 2016 that supported and shaped the cultural exchange between Germany and Islamic countries. Together with the publishing of the last issue, “Flight and Displacement” (issue 105), in autumn of 2016 the maintenance and updating of this online portal was ceased.

    Editorial
    The State of Literature Today

    Literature starts with publishing. Something that has been taken for granted in Europe since Gutenberg in the sixteenth century, namely that books will be printed, distributed by publishers and sold in bookshops, was in many countries – especially in Africa – only ever true to a limited extent. Today we too, in the prosperous West, no longer know whether this publishing model will endure. E-books and online bookshops are in the process of destroying the traditional book market. But electronic publication and other alternatives to the classic publishing model, with its publishing houses and bookshops, also offer many new opportunities. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Istanbul. Lines by Cemal Süreya: ‘There are beds for talking for kissing, there are phone boxes…’ (cf. article by Achim Wagner in Art & Thought On Literature) Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    Challenges of Writing and Publishing today
    Africa and Beyond

    Doris Lessing once commented that ‘world literature without African literature is like an orchestra with some pieces missing’. The same could, of course, also be said about the literatures of Asia, the Arab world, Oceania, Eastern Europe or Latin America. In the twenty-first century it is still the case that anything written and published outside western Europe and North America seldom finds its way to worldwide acclaim. In this article we take a look at the book world in all its diversity, and ask what is really going on here and what can be done about it. By Holger EhlingMore ...
    Istanbul. Steps in Burgazada, painted in bright colours during the protests (cf. article by Achim Wagner in Art & Thought On Literature). Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    Publishing in Africa
    Alternative Ways and Dead Ends

    What alternative possibilities exist for publishing in an extremely difficult book market, such as Africa? The South African publisher Arthur Attwell writes here about his ideas and experiences of producing and distributing books in areas with poor infrastructure, and considering the widespread poverty in the region. Reading, however, is not just a pleasant way of passing the time: often, it’s a question of survival. By Arthur AttwellMore ...
    A photo affixed to a barricade in Ankara shows a demonstrator protesting against tear gas grenades by brandishing a flowerpot (cf. article by Achim Wagner in Art & Thought On Literature). Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    From Alt Lit to SEO-Literature?
    The Literary Work of Art in the Age of Digital Monopolies

    The Internet has the potential to radically change our understanding of literature. Previously unimaginable forms of publication and writing have been developed – not for the sake of literature alone, but also because authors can no longer exist without taking the requirements of the Internet into consideration. The Internet theoretician Johannes Thumfart discusses the possible extent of these changes, and how dangerous, in some respects, they are. By Johannes ThumfartMore ...
    John Sandoe’s bookshop in Chelsea, London. Photo: Jakob Burgi.

    Publishing Lives On... But in What Form?
    How the Significance of Books Is Changing

    Book makers fear the demise of the book, and this fear is yielding strange fruit. Books themselves are becoming ever more beautiful, even when the content is not especially valuable. Valuable content, on the other hand, is migrating to new media. A consideration of the compatibility of media and content, now and in the future. By Thorsten KrämerMore ...
    Ankara. Lines by Nazim Hikmet: ‘And the most beautiful word that I want to say to you is the word I have not yet said.’ (cf. article by Achim Wagner in Art & Thought On Literature) Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    The Literary Medium Is Changing
    Why I’m For the E-Book and Not Against Amazon in Principle

    The German publishing industry is considered to be one of the best in the world. However, bookshops and publishers alike are feeling threatened: both by the technological developments that have brought us the e-book, and by the aggressive business policies of the online retailer Amazon. But is this development also a threat for authors? No – it’s an opportunity. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Raimund Fellinger. Photo: Wolfgang Borrs.

    Serving Author, Reader, and Publisher
    A Conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of a Leading German Publishing House

    The digital revolution is making big changes to almost all areas of our lives and habits – including reading books. How is one of Germany’s biggest publishing houses meeting these challenges? Our author Alem Grabovac spoke to Raimund Fellinger, editor-in-chief of the Suhrkamp publishing house, about e-books, manuscripts he has rejected, and the extent to which editors influence their authors. By Alem GrabovacMore ...
    Screenshots from ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ by Yager Development. Photo: Fikrun wa Fann.

    Inspired by Literature – Inspiration for Literature
    Computer Games as an Art Form

    For a long time, computer games were viewed as a popular pastime with no cultural value. Now, however, it is acknowledged that computer games are closely related to both film and literature and have what it takes to become an independent art form. Literary promoter Thomas Böhm explains the role literature is playing in the computer game’s cultural coming of age, and looks at the potential that lies in this exciting combination. By Thomas BöhmMore ...
    Ankara. Lines by Cemal Süreya: ‘Whichever city I am in, you know that is the capital city of loneliness.’ (cf. article by Achim Wagner in Art & Thought On Literature) Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    What Next for the Iranian Blogosphere?

    It’s a little more than a decade since many Iranians were infected with blogging fever. It wasn’t long before blogging came to be seen as a sign that freedom of speech and democracy might be about to spread. Iranian bloggers were greeted internationally with enthusiasm, admiration and encouragement. In Iran, however, they were targeted by the security organisations and the victims of Internet censorship. So what status does blogging have in Iran today? By Parisa TonekaboniMore ...
    Tehran Book Fair. Photo: Markus Kirchgessner © Goethe-Institut

    Writing is a Dangerous Act
    The Situation of Writers in Iran

    The history of modern Iranian literature has been shaped by censorship. Nonetheless, Iran would like to be guest of honour at the biggest book fair in the world in Frankfurt in 2018. Amir Hassan Cheheltan, one of Iran’s best-known contemporary authors, describes how he deals with this situation. By Amir Hassan CheheltanMore ...
    At the book bazaar in Kabul. Photo: Ursula Neumann © Goethe-Institut


    The Writing of Life, the Life of Writing
    How to Be and Become a Writer in Afghanistan

    What makes an Afghan author turn to writing? What moves and inspires him? Many things are just the same as for authors in other parts of the world, but Afghanistan presents particular challenges, especially when the author starts to think about publication. A meditation by Taqi Akhlaqi on the inner and outer lives of the writer. By Taqi AkhlaqiMore ...
    Bookseller selling old and second-hand books at the Cairo Book Fair. Photo: Markus Kirchgessner © Goethe-Institut

    Revolting or Writing?
    The Impact of Turbulent Times on Writers

    How does a writer with political awareness respond to Egypt’s turbulent political tides? How does he keep his head above water and avoid being swept along with the current? How does he manage neither to become solely a political animal nor to turn his back on politics entirely? Saad al-Kirsh takes up the machete of words in an attempt to slash his way through the political-literary jungle. By Saad al-KirshMore ...
    Nisrine Boukhari: 360° Pilgrimage. From the exhibition ‘I Will Never Get Used to Wait’, Galerie Hinterland, Vienna 11.03.–11.04.2015. Photo: Galerie Hinterland © Goethe-Institut

    The Revolutions Change Everything
    The Fragility of Writing in Our Times

    The Arab revolutions, and the Syrian revolution in particular, have changed authors conception of themselves. For some, the change has been so great that they find they can no longer write. This is the experience of Dima Wannous, one of the outstanding authors of Syrias younger generation. While aspects of literature that were previously taken for granted are being called into question, its still almost impossible to gauge what the new developments will bring. A report from an author on standby. By Dima WannousMore ...
    Izmir. An injunction: ‘close the copybook, the poem is on the street.’ Photo: Achim Wagner © Goethe-Institut

    The Poem Is on the Street
    On the #şiirsokakta Movement in Turkey

    In the wake of the Gezi protests, and through interaction with social media, a movement has arisen in Turkey that inspires people to write, spray and scrawl snippets of poetry on public spaces. It has become a vibrant part of literary life in Turkey. By Achim WagnerMore ...
    Gramedia bookstore in the Ambassador Mall (Mal Ambasador), Kuningan, Jakarta. Photo: Charlie Ramos.

    Writing and Reading to Overcome the Traumas

    The invitation to the Frankfurt Book Fair is a big opportunity for Indonesia. However, its forthcoming appearance as guest of honour also presents the country, with its many languages and the world’s biggest Muslim population, with considerable difficulties. By Marco StahlhutMore ...

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    Fikrun wa Fann as an e-paper

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