Fouad Yazji

Foto: Roland Baege

Fouad Yazji was born in Homs in 1959. His parents, orthodox Christians, trace their roots back to Syrian writer, philologist, and poet Ibrahim Al-Yazji originally stemming from the village of Marmarite. Starting in childhood, Fouad Yazji developed a love for mathematics and as a young man earned a master’s degree in education. Yet eventually, he realized that mathematics could not stimulate his imagination in the way he wished and so he developed a new passion for chess. He entered a chess tournament in Homs – and won. But soon, chess alone did not satisfy his needs anymore and instead his interest in literature intensified. He began to write and the philosophical texts of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had a profound impact on his writings. So much so that he wrote a novel under the title “The Blue Volga”, in which he included a multitude of the philosopher’s ideas. But not only Nietzsche but also medieval Islamic mystic Daschalal ad-Din Rumi made a strong impression on him. Sentences such as: “Don’t be without love / otherwise you will feel dead; die in love / and live forever” shaped his thoughts about love immensely. Under this impression, he wrote his novel “The Seven Prayers of Love” and began translating some English texts into Arabic. During the war, his family was widely scattered into different parts of Syria. From November 2015 until October 2018, Fouad Yazji had been taking part in the German PEN’s Writers-in-Exile Programme. In 2017, a text by Yazji has been published in the German PEN anthology “Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren” (S. Fischer).

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