Alumni Project

AGYA Literary Salon: Arab and German Literary Cultures

Literature provides glimpses into the social realities of different times – past, present, and future. More importantly, fiction allows authors and readers alike to interact with and playfully reflect on these realities. The wide array of voices in world literature prompts us to reconsider our viewpoints and dismantle preconceived notions.

The event series ‘AGYA Literary Salon’, which was successfully launched in 2022, hosts both established and emerging Arab and German authors to discuss their literary careers, visions, and latest works. The Salon especially aims to introduce new literary talents and unknown texts to the public, presenting new thoughts, expressing human values, and providing a source for inspiration.

Salon with Award-winning Author Senthuran Varatharajah

Under the heading ‘Exiled Writing – Writing Exile: Literature between Escape and Attachment’, AGYA welcomed Senthuran Varatharajah, one of Germany's most perceptive and promising young literary talents. Senthuran Varatharajah is Berlin-based author, philosopher, theologian, and member of Die Junge Akademie. His debut novels ‘Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen // Before the Signs Increase’ (2016) and ‘Rot (Hunger) // Red (Hunger)’ (2022) have received multiple awards. Currently, Varatharajah is working on an inaugural volume of poetry entitled ‘Klagelieder // Lamentations’.

In the premises of the Werkstatt Exilmuseum, Varatharajah engaged in dialogue with AGYA alumnus and scholar of Arabic literature Kirill Dmitriev, exploring the intricacies of migrant biographies, sharing his personal insights on identity, memory, and exile. Focusing on the multi-layered and entangled paradoxes of ‘homeland’ and ‘exile’, they discussed the impact of creative writing on understanding, constructing, and overcoming the human experience of displacement and attachment, denial and affirmation, repulsion and longing. The event culminated in a stimulating exchange with present guests, as well as AGYA members and alumni/ae from diverse disciplines, who enriched the discussion with diverse perspectives on the literary themes of exile and identity.

The salon illuminated deep connections between literature and lived experiences of exile and migration, emphasizing creative writing's ability to navigate and express complex emotions of displacement and belonging.

AGYA alumnus Kirill Dmitriev

Further events in this current series:

Salon with Wdad al-Qadi  –  The Future of Arabic Literary Culture
Wdad al-Qadi a distinguished scholar in the field of Arabic and Islamic studies. In conversation with AGYA alumni Kirill Dmitriev and Bilal Orfali. The salon highlighted al-Qadi's extensive scholarly contributions in the intercultural discourse on Arabic literary in both Arab countries and the West. This event explored her visionary perspectives on Arabic literary culture within a global context, reaching out to both academic and non-academic audiences.

Salon with Tim Mackintosh-Smith – The History of Arab Travelers
Tim Mackintosh-Smith an award-winning travel book writer, translator, and Arabist and historian who lived in Yemen for thirty years. In discussion with AGYA alumnus Bilal Orfali and Nadia El Cheikh he delved into the history and impact of Arab travelers such as Ibn Battuta.

Discover previous salons featuring prominent and talented Arab and German literary voices here.

Disciplines Involved
Literature, Arabic Studies, Arabic & Islamic Studies
Dates & Venues
2 December 2023: Online
11 March 2024: American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
24 April 2024: Werkstatt Exilmuseum, Berlin, Germany
Project Title
AGYA Literary Salon II
2023 - 2024
Funding Scheme
Alumni Project
Countries Involved
Germany, Lebanon