What does Antifa bring back to society?

Our own Antifa Gençlik

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In Hengameh Yaghoobifarah's debut novel "Ministry of Dreams", a woman in her forties who never wanted children suddenly bears responsibility for a teenager

From Nelli Tügel

Cool, I gave up my life for a youngster who pecks out 24/7. ”That's what Nasrin, in her mid-forties, bouncer, who had actually settled down quite well in her life, thinks until she suddenly becomes the guardian of 14-year-old Parvin finds again. Parvin is Nasrin's niece, the daughter of her little sister Nushin, with whose death the story begins.

Nasrin and Nushin had a special relationship: Together with their mother, they fled Iran in the early 1980s; Perhaps the most touching figure in history, father friend Manoucher, supports the mother and two daughters after their arrival in Lübeck Hudekamp, ​​he finds no peace himself, he was tortured with sleep deprivation in Iran. After the father left behind in Tehran is executed by the regime, the mother toiled through the years as a tailor and encapsulated herself emotionally from her daughters, who move closer together and care for each other.

And now - in the presence of the novel, which is repeatedly interrupted by flashbacks - Nasrin is supposed to take care of Parvin. Because Nushin is no longer there. The circumstances of her death concern the bereaved: Nasrin believes in a suicide, Parvin has the faint hope that her mother could still be alive, Nasrin and Nushin's mother, in turn, is immediately satisfied with the explanation provided by the police, which confirms their own resentment, that Arab clan auto craftsmen deliberately loosened the tire screws on Nushin's car: honor killing, as two police officers explain to Nasrin.

This is nonsense, of course, and Nasrin doesn't trust the police for a second. As well as - she has learned that the »law enforcement officers« cannot be relied on. They looked the other way when they and their friends were threatened and hunted by Nazis at Lübeck's fairground in the 1990s; and when foreigners were dying again and again at the beginning of the noughties - in Nuremberg, Hamburg, Dortmund and Kassel - this worries Nasrin and the others, also because they suspect that the police are investigating in the completely wrong direction. "Let me guess. They say it was some mafia again, ”asks Nushin in one of the flashbacks.

Despite all the tragedy, the story is often hilarious - this is ensured above all by Nasrin's laconic and self-ironic tone and warm-hearted characters.

In addition to escape, migrant loneliness, loss and grief, this novel also deals with Nazi violence and failure of the authorities (and a lot more is touched on). Amazingly, despite so many topics, the story is not a bit overloaded - Hengameh Yaghoobifarah manages to develop it from the plot and the sensitively described characters. In addition, idiosyncratic as well as catchy language, original comparisons and metaphors carry through the book. And despite all the tragedy, the story is often funny too - this is ensured above all by Nasrin's laconic and self-deprecating tone, in which she reflects on the sudden challenges (stealing, smoking weed, school trip) in dealing with Parvin, as well as warm-hearted characters like Sakine, who assisted Nasrin whose first parents' evening at Parvin's school saves, and the weird but saucool Filiz, a friend of Nasrin and Nushin.

Filiz was the leader of the group in Lübeck in the 1990s, in which the sisters and their friends learn self-defense and read political texts. “Okay. We make our own Antifa Gençlik «, says the young Filiz in one of the flashbacks to the friend's proposal to join forces for self-protection; it is the years of Hoyerswerda and Mölln. Filiz knows more than the others (“Apart from Filiz, none of us knew that Café Morgenland had nothing to do with gastronomy, but with left-wing immigrant resistance”), has had street fighting - and is Nasrin's as well not first, but first great love. The Filiz of the present is a bit like an echo from the 1990s (Filiz: »What is a Kwierebar?«, Nasrin: »Lesbian bar, so to speak«). Like the connection between the past and the present, it ultimately turns out to be crucial in deciphering the mystery of Nushin's death.

Until then, you can hardly stop reading. And you miss the characters as soon as the book is closed. The best novels are those that make you laugh out loud when you read them and four pages later make you cry. Hengameh Yaghoobifarah's novel is one of those. It begins with death - and ends with what life may not always be, but what maintains it: cohesion, care. For a long time I haven't read anything that entertained me, captivated me and comforted me at the same time.