"Identity struggles are struggles over fictions in reality," explains Mithu Sanyal in the afterword to her debut novel with the programmatic title "Identitti". This is what the main female character in the novel calls herself when she blogs and tweets on the relevant Internet platforms on the subject of sexism and racism. Nivedita, daughter of a German and an Indian, is a young feminist with race-sex-gender theory. And that's what she managed to do in the seminars of a charismatic professor for postcolonial theory at the University of Düsseldorf. The chair holder with a chic attic apartment in Düsseldorf-Oberbilk is called slightly pretentious after the Hindu goddess of learning: Saraswati.

As a professor who feels that she belongs to the People of Color (PoC), Saraswati is a thorn in the white flesh of the German university. This makes the author of the fictional standard work “Decolonize your Soul” a credible representative of the experiences of a group of people who in this country are faced with similar problems of belonging as in other countries with a colonial past.

Out of pedagogical conviction, Saraswati relies on drastic teaching in its courses.

She likes to open it up with a provocation.

For example, by asking all white students to leave the lecture hall.

Afterwards she calls the duped into her office hours to discuss which feelings, motives and mechanisms are at work in the respective actors.

Saraswati is thus a kind of performance intellectual who messes up the identity budget of her students.

Or in the case of her favorite student Nivedita, for the first time ever, something like a solid identity has been made possible.

They turn the truth upside down

Mithu Sanyal writes in the epilogue of her novel that the attacks in Hanau occurred while she was working on “Identitti”.

They appear in the book as well as various living people from contemporary history, from Donald Trump to the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah to the radio journalist René Aguigah: as people whom she weaves into the invented contexts of her novel with real statements on questions of racism.

A method that tells a true invented story in a pleasantly impartial manner on the border between fact and fiction.

Everyday life in Germany does not, of course, consist of terrible violent crimes, writes the author, but terrible crimes such as the Hanau attack are part of the reality in the Federal Republic of Germany.

"That is why the silence about it in German-language literature is an unacceptable blank."

It is committed literature that is preparing to fill this void. Mithu Sanyal, who has so far made a name for herself as a non-fiction author about the vulva and the history of discourse on rape, has found a very special genre for her concern: a mixture of campus novel, intellectual chamber play, blogosphere plateau and identity politics satire. You can laugh out loud at least three times on each side. Because Sanyal has an incredible talent to show both the freedom of thought taken to extremes and the limits of discourse. In any case, all the characters who inhabit this novel can talk pretty well. Every now and then they talk about head and neck and turn the truth upside down. But they always talk in such a way that it pops funny.

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