Jakob Arjouni was born in Frankfurt am Main. He ended his university studies and published his first novel Happy Birthday, Türke! (1985) at the age of 20. This was the first in his Kayankaya series of crime novels, featuring private detective Kemal Kayankaya, and set in Frankfurt am Main where Arjouni resided. The series brought him recognition both in Germany and abroad: the books were translated into 10 different languages. In 1987, he received the Baden-Württembergischen Autorenpreis für das deutschsprachige Jugendtheater for his play Nazim schiebt ab. In 1992, he received the German Crime Fiction Prize for One Man, One Murder. He died, aged 48, in Berlin, after a long fight against pancreatic cancer.
Themes of his works
Arjouni's works are usually about contemporary problems, and he writes about the environment he is familiar with. Although Kayankaya was adopted and brought up by a German family, he subjected to racism due his ethnic Turkish appearance, and the others made fun of him. Kismet, another detective novel about Kayankaya, is about the Yugoslav civil war. In his works Magic Hoffmann, Hausaufgaben and Edelsmanns Tochter, he talks about the rising nationalism, historical revisionism and anti-Semitism in the reunified Germany.
His novel Chez Max takes place in Paris in the year 2064. In this novel, he writes on the future of the society, which would be closely monitored to enhance security as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One can easily relate Chez Max with the scenes in George Orwell's novel 1984.
In one of his last novels, Der heilige Eddy (2009), Arjouni departed from his previously serious themes and wrote a lightweight contemporary picaresque. Peter Henning, a critic from the German newspaper Die Zeit, commented that it is a "German screwball prose with 246 floating slightly staged pages". His thriller novel Cherryman jagt Mr. White (2011) has an 18-year-old protagonist in rural Brandenburg who has to face brutal violence by young Nazis of his own village. To overcome his subdued feelings, he turns them into the cartoon adventures of hero "Cherryman" and gangster "Mr. White".
- Ziegler Visiting Speaker Series Presents Jakob Arjouni. University of British Columbia.
- "Legendärer Krimi-Autor: Jakob Arjouni ist tot" (in German). Der Spiegel. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Dennis Loy Johnson (January 17, 2013). "Hail & Farewell: Jakob Arjouni". Melville House Publishing. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
- "Jakob Arjouni Bruder Kemal". New Books in German. Retrieved December 20, 2012.