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Memo Anjel (José Guillermo Ángel) was born in Medellín, Columbia, as the child of Algerian immigrants in 1954. He regards writing as an existential activity, something that helps him to analyse himself and to recognise the nature of others, in order to look deeply at the meaning of tolerance and life itself. According to Anjel, only the necessary knowledge of what surrounds us enables us to survive at all and to give our existence sufficient transparency.

Besides his literary oeuvre, Anjel has worked for 16 years as a professor of social communication at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín. In addition to this, every week he writes the column "Cartas dispersas" for the daily newspaper El Colombiano. During his stay in Berlin he wrote the column in the form of letters to German intellectual greats and stars such as Albert Einstein, Jacob Grimm, Marlene Dietrich or Max Schmeling. In 1991, he was one of the founders of the Café Literario in Medellín.

It is impossible to find the widespread image of Columbia as a country at civil war, full of violence and drug-dealing in Anjel's books – and this is a conscious decision. We search for it in vain in his novel "The Crazy Year", for example. Instead, the reader experiences the everyday moments of happiness and the domestic catastrophes of a Sephardic family of ten in Medellín during the 50s from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old boy – the interplay of expectations, disappointments and fulfilment centred around one great dream: a journey to the city of gold, Jerusalem. Anjel's narrative art is characterised by his way of permitting events to follow on from each other at a sometimes breath-taking speed, but on the other hand he breathes life into his characters in a fond, even tender way. "In a climate of complete destruction, happiness still sets out its traps – and literature must be about those free spaces."

Anjel is one of a group of modern Columbian authors who no longer think and write in a specifically Columbian, but rather universal way. "All over the world, people have similar experiences ? whether they live in Columbia or Germany: they have a family, work, suffer, and experience the same tragedies, war and emigration."

Anjel has made an intense study of Jewish classics, and in many of his works he examines his own Sephardic history and the question of what it means to be a Sephardic Jew in today's culture of assimilation. He has written several essays on the contribution of Arabic culture to the development of occidental civilisation and the role of Jewish culture and history in contemporary literary and philosophical ideas.


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Publications in German Translation
Das meschuggene Jahr. Translated by Erich Hackl and Peter Schultze-Kraft Rotpunktverlag, Zurich 2005
Published by DAAD
Geschichten vom Fenstersims 2007
Events by DAAD
"Geschichten vom Fenstersims"

"Wahlheimat Berlin" - Das meschuggene Jahr -

Memo Anjel (Kolumbien). LESUNG UND GESPRÄCH. Neue Literaturen: Nächstes Jahr in Jerusalem! Ein Traum im kolumbianischen Medelln.

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