Following its initial release in early 2006, Turkish-born author Feridun Zaimoğlu’s book Leyla seemed to many reviewers further evidence of a critical breakthrough into the German literary scene. Zaimoğlu’s fame-or to some, infamy-in the German media world immediately followed the cult success of his collection of literarily transcribed testimonials Kanak Talk: 24 Dischords from the Borders of Society (Kanak Sprak: 24 Mißtöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft Kanak, 1995). The young male fi gures who testify-and for whom Zaimoğlu co-opts the slang pejorative Kanakeare the children and grandchildren of the guest worker generation who came to Germany in the 1950s and 1960s. The publication of Kanak Talk was followed by the interview-based novel Scum (Abschaum, 1997) and a second collection of testimonials, Head Cloth: Kanaka-Talk from the Borders of Society (Koppstoff . Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft, 1998), featuring the lives of female Kanaken, appeared one year later. In the German feuilletons, Zaimoğlu has been portrayed as the “enfant terrible of contemporary German letters,” and through his frequent appearances on talk shows and contributions to prominent newspapers, he has been cast as the media voice of Turkish-Germans (see Cheesman and Göktürk, 1999). Leyla, which bears the generic label Roman (novel) as its subtitle, is narrated from the perspective of a young Turkish girl growing up in an Anatolian village sometime in the 1930s. At the end of the book, the title fi gure Leyla, fi rst arrives in Germany with her young baby boy to meet her Turkish husband, who has already found a job there among the early waves of guest workers. Prior to the publication of Leyla, Zaimoğlu had already been recognized for his literary work through multiple awards, including the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2003 for his short story “Skins” (“Häute”) (which later appeared in the collection Twelve Grams of Happiness [Zwölf Gramm Glück, 2004]) and the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize for literature written by a nonnative speaker of German in 2005; however, this book was characterized by many literary critics as a seminal point in Zaimoğlu’s move from niche literature and into the world

of the belles-lettres. In the dominant narrative of the feuilletons, Leyla was cited as a clear sign of Zaimoğlu’s development into a “real German poet/ author” (“ein richtiger deutscher Dichter”).2