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Elke Heidenreich, author and book critic
In these February days, the author Friedrich Christian Delius would have turned eighty.
He died in May last year after a long, serious illness.
And he knew it was coming to an end and started an autobiography.
But of course he was smart enough to know what all autobiographies suffer from: corrections, euphemisms, vanity, lies, overconfidence.
It wasn't his thing at all.
Delius was an outwardly cool-looking, but very sensitive and also hidden funny, highly intelligent man who had neither the madness nor the megalomania, as he writes in the foreword, now wanting to fan out a whole life.
But a few thoughts, classifications, questions that he also asks himself.
He wanted to write down memories.
And then he thought telling everything from A to Z is nonsense.
I'll just take the letter "A" and that's what his book is called: "Memoirs with a capital A. Darling it's Dilius." More on that later.
Capital A reminders. This means writing down everything that fits under A.
For example »former chancellor«, eight in total, which he describes in a wonderfully ironic way.
Or »answering machine«.
Do you remember?
There used to be an answering machine that you could talk to very briefly, then it beeped and it was over again.
That was really nice.
Today it's called voicemail and they babble on text messages that you have to listen to for hours.
It used to be much shorter.
Delius had one, that's what he said.
I am on my way.
And the Israeli poet Nathan Zach left: "But Delius, we're all like that," so nice, something like that.
Under "Beginnings" it says: "There is no end, there are only beginnings." And then you catch yourself wanting to just turn the pages and read a few aces.
And that you stick with it and basically read the whole book because it's so beautiful.
Anyway... his tone is just wonderful.
Whether it's a tear-off calendar, everything with an A. Or »Arsch I« and »Arsch II«.
Where »Arsch I« is a quote from theater man Max Reinhardt, who said that those who just keep chasing after the audience eventually only see their ass.
"Arrogance", "poverty", "Louis Armstrong", "fear" is also one of these words.
He met Salman Rushdie, who after the fatwa had decided
»Aesthetics, stocks, agnostics«.
It is a pleasure to follow him, to keep reading.
One would have wished that he didn't just do A, but also »Memoirs from B to Z«.
This great author!
One of his words is "Auszeit" and he says: "It's one of the ugliest words in the German language and also completely meaningless.
There is no time off, except in the cemetery when the time is up.« Delius took this time off and now his American friends can no longer shout »Darling it's Dilius« on the phone when he calls – he doesn't call anymore !
Dilius doesn't call anymore.
The second book I would like to present to you is Salome's Wrath by Simone Atangana Bekono.
Published by Beck-Verlag, Delius, by the way, by Rowohlt, like all his books.
I liked the cover, I liked the title.
I started and couldn't put it down until I had read the 240 pages in seven or eight hours.
What a brave, strong, desperate, angry, big, confident book.
Basically, it is a single, long monologue by this angry Salomé, who is crossed out here.
She is 16 years old.
She is in juvenile prison.
It's a flow of thoughts.
And she's angry at everything.
To her life, to the other girls in jail, to everyone out there.
And her great anger is, you can feel that as a reader, more and more grief and helplessness.
You want to take this girl in your arms and comfort you,
but that would be too easy.
Salomé lives in a small Dutch village with her family, who come from Cameroon.
A somewhat dumb company calling after their fucking Negro brat.
And eventually the boys tease her so much, they pull her off her bike and throw her in the mud, she hits back.
And that's why she ended up in jail.
How else are you supposed to survive so many hostilities?
And how else could she... could she get through jail without those thoughts of violence, without that anger?
That she ends up in therapy run by a man she knows from TV who is a real racist, a racist outright.
And she, as a black girl, now has to talk to why she did it.
Why did she do that?
Her father hung up a punching ball in the garage and said: "You can practice on this and always step forward as if you want to punch your enemy in the stomach.
And that's exactly what she did when the attacks on her became unbearable.
And we readers are always on Salomé's side, despite this violence, because we understand that this deeply sensitive, well-read, smart girl uses violence only when absolutely necessary.
And this emergency was there.
The author carefully guides us through all these outbursts on a path that Salomé can finally walk.
And that is a path that we all society should slowly learn to walk if we are not to lose humanity altogether.
It's a debut, a big hit, I think.
About violence, exclusion and saving intelligence.
Simone Atangana Bekono is just over 30 and can write.
We also suggest her Delius, who writes under A for effort that although it is very exhausting to evade the whole clan in the literary world, one should do so
to get it right
If you're really good, you don't need this clique at all.
He or she makes his or her way with the readers alone.
Bekono will definitely make it like Delius made it, without ever pandering.