Marnheim (dpa) – In his new volume of stories “My astrological sign is the rainbow”, author Rafik Schami presents himself at the height of his storytelling.

In his work, the writer, who just turned 75, once again juggles absurd incidents, bitter descriptions, great entertainment – and a lot of wit of appropriate language. “The German language is as poetic as the French, Arabic or Italian language,” says Schami himself. “I never felt a lack of color in her – my stories don’t sound more poetic in Arabic.”

The author, who was born in Damascus (Syria), divides the book into subjects such as “Mystery” and “Desire” and burns a firework display of bizarre situations in each of the six chapters. Schami recounts, for example, how women conspiratorially take revenge on their former lover in a pizzeria or how a celebration escalates after honest speeches. He also explains why it is good to pass thoughts by laughing, and why the Vatican reserved paradise for the saints of Europe.

“These are stories that often take place in Germany, but whose heroes come from all over the world,” explains Schami, who arrived in Germany in 1971 and obtained his doctorate in chemistry in Heidelberg in 1979. Today he lives in a small city ​​of Rhineland-Palatinate. Rafik Schami is a pseudonym and means “friend of Damascus”. His real name is Suheil Fadél. He has long been considered an important narrator of the German language and a brilliant observer of the realities of life around him. In order to improve his German, Schami once hand-copied Thomas Mann’s monumental work “Buddenbrooks”.

In “My zodiac sign is the rainbow”, he repeatedly develops his stories from failed relationships. A penniless man is abandoned by his cheating wife on vacation and suddenly has to make a living as a beach vendor. Or: Before a long cruise, the husband has to undergo a tasty operation for the sake of his wife. But don’t worry, humor is not overlooked. Because Schami also tells how a joke overthrows a dictator and a rather unsavory competition for a prize called “Golden Pujol”.

In one of the most beautiful stories perhaps, after the death of his wife, Mr. Moritz goes on a trip around the world, but without leaving Germany. Here, as in many other parts of the book, Shami gets quite political – but without raising his index finger in an informative way.

He always has a critical inner distance with all the characters in a story, Schami of the German news agency says of his new book. This distance is the sine qua non of a good storytelling. “It is a common mistake made by some writers that they fall in love with a character and elevate him to the rank of saint and treat their opponents like criminals.” But a narrator is not a judge. “He must leave the judgment to the readers – and also describe stupid or obnoxious people as objectively as possible.”

The pandemic surprised Shami in the middle of a tour last year. At this time, there will be no further book tours, he said. “With the growing numbers, I wonder if Corona will be leaving us in the fall or the winter.” He has been giving readings for 40 years. “Now, reason compels me to stay home – much to my chagrin, I have to say. Because I like to say it to people verbally.”

– Rafik Schami, My zodiac sign is the rainbow, 320 pages, 23.00 euros, ISBN: 978-3-446-27087-9