Happy Birthday, Turke! (Kayankaya #1) by Jakob ArjouniWaking up on his twenty-sixth birthday in August 1983, private investigator Kemal Kayankaya faces his first battle of the day with the infernal fly that has disturbed his sleep and consoles himself by cracking open one of the many beers that he consumes over the course of the next three days. Born to now deceased Turkish parents from Ankara, his adoption and upbringing by the Holzheims, a family of German nationals, was his passport to German citizenship, although he has never been in doubt as to his status as an unwelcome darkie in 1980s Germany. Kayankaya has a very big chip on his shoulder but it will only take the reader a matter of pages before they come to understand why and are given a flavour of the prejudice and stereotyping that has marked his years. Regarded as the proverbial second-class citizen, he encounters Germans who either assume he does not speak the language and/or works in the sanitation industry, only to be flabbergasted when he opens his mouth to reveal an excellent grasp of the national language given his status as a lowly foreigner. Even those he knows quite well spare no expense, with his neighbours who share his office block referring to him as Mustafa, joking about his ill-manners and generally taking every opportunity for exploiting his position as the butt of easy jokes.
Late morning with his feet up and relaxing in his office, Kemal Kayankaya who has been in possession of a private investigators license for three years is approached by a Turkish widow keen to know just who murdered her husband. Offering a hefty daily rate with expenses added he is keen to be of service, despite her surprise at him neither understanding or speaking the Turkish language. The grieving Ilter Hamul tells Kayankaya about her husband, Ahmeds, recent demise found with a knife in his back deep in the red-light district. She suspects that finding the murder of a Turkish factory worker is not high on the priority list of the local police, and contrary to the view of her mother and siblings who advise her to leave it to the authorities, she feels a need to uncover the circumstances of his violent end. Whilst his widow admits to knowing little about his unspecified occupation and whereabouts in the last few years of his life, an interview with her taciturn wider family reveals a dearth of facts about just what Ahmed was involved in, but unabashed Kemal Kayankaya doesnt give up easily.
First off, he bluffs his way into various police departments under false identities, brazening out the hostile investigators assigned to the Ahmed Hamul investigation who confront him. Piecing together Ahmeds employment history and meeting his ex-colleagues sets him in pursuit of a supposed girlfriend with a drug habit who makes her money from prostitution. With very little factual detail to go on, he elbows his way into bars and infiltrates the world of the unsavoury haunts and strip-clubs of Frankfurt. His outspoken and abrasive attitude makes him no end of enemies and en route to the denouement he takes several beatings as he flies by the seat of his pants and narrowly escapes being run down by a Fiat on the loose and incapacitated by tear-gas. Many of his discoveries are rather fortuitous, a matter of being in the right place at the right time and passing the time of day with the drug addicts and hookers who frequent the area, even passing himself off as supposed john! At other times he bluffs his way to elicit disclosure from the police passing as a supposed Turkish envoy and public prosecutor. Coincidences abound, cliches are rife but humorous dialogue and fast thinking means Happy Birthday, Turk! never takes itself too seriously. Along the way Kayankaya also manages to uncover that the sister-in-law of Hamul is herself a heroin addict, that his father-in-laws fatal accident was a matter of a police cover-up and deliver the truth to Ilter Hamul.
Just short of two-hundred pages this is very different to my usual genre of crime fiction, but is an absolute hoot from start to finish. Short and to the point, Happy Birthday, Turk! allows the wisecracking and smart-mouthed Kemal Kayankaya to never outstay his welcome and means that for those who might not necessary gravitate to the hardboiled private eye genre, this is a welcome foray. I suspect if this had been a lengthier text then I would not have found it so palatable as my usual reading taste is for something with a little more depth, however the over the top violence and bawdy humour of Kayankaya emphasises his status as the ultimate outsider, used to being given a rough ride in his adopted country. I would definitely read more of the unique Kayankaya, a perceptive immigrant whose wit allows him to poke fun at the natives who belittle him and beat them at their own game with a tongue-in-cheek line in national stereotyping (sausages and sauerkraut)!
An excellent translation courtesy of Anselm Hollo means the fast talking Kayankaya is a worthy equal to any apathetic American gumshoe on a diet of fast-food and alcohol who becomes more jaded with each and every day. First published in 1985 in Germany when Arjourni was just nineteen, this is the first of five novels in what is now considered a seminal series in crime fiction and shines a light on the world of a Turkish-German private investigator.
How To Say HAPPY BIRTHDAY In German- Learn German
How to Say Happy Birthday in German
Some will look quite familiar, and some of them might be a bit more on the quirkier side. When I first came to the US, I was shocked by how many times people would wish me a happy birthday in advance, even if my birthday was still days away. You see, in Germany wishing someone a happy birthday before his or her actual birthday is considered rude and supposedly brings bad luck. So before you get ahead of yourself and wish someone a happy birthday in German, just make sure you double-check the date. Sounds pretty weird? It kind of is. While it seems to be a strange custom, I can guarantee you it will make you very popular with your fellow students or co-workers.