How do today's global crises shape world literature, and is world literature itself a crisis mode of cultural production? This article addresses these questions through a close engagement with two novels by Abbas Khider, a German-language novelist born in Iraq, where he was a political prisoner. Featuring a migrant who often travels illegally and under invented names, and a travelling letter written by a former political prisoner to someone who meanwhile has become a refugee herself, Der falsche Inder (The Village Indian) and Brief in die Auberginenrepublik (Letter to the Eggplant Republic) dramatize migration as one of the global crises we face today. By situating these novels in a “translation zone,” I argue that Khider incorporates movement in their very form, engaging with the complex dimensions of linguistic and cultural translation that accompany movement. They are thus “born-translated novels,” belaboring a temporality of precedence characteristic of the refugee experience. By reclaiming agency in the process of translation, however, Khider's novels alter their readers' sense of a world—a worlding (in the sense given this term by Martin Heidegger, and borrowed by Pheng Cheah) that becomes part of an ethics of the migrant, who engages in intentional gestures of mistranslation.

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