The migration of Syrians to Europe, and Germany in particular, soon after the outbreak of the current war in their country, changed the lives of Syrians and made it different from their lives in their original homeland.
In that context, this new novel by the Syrian writer, novelist, residing in Germany, Ibrahim Al-Youssef, took the German diaspora as the arena for its events and sheds light on the issue of the difficulty of integrating into the new society.
The “Republic of the Dog” novel deals with the issue of the clash of cultures and the alternative perspective of immigration, as despite the official welcome of the refugees and the policy of opening doors, the host always stopped at the challenges of “integration policies”, setting conditions for reception, with no choice but to accept them, which are the conditions that some saw – within the novel. And outside of it – it is a kind of interference with identity, especially since the generation of children identifies with the new reality, unlike the generation of fathers, which is difficult to uproot, and who is waiting for the opportunity to return to his homeland, after paying all these sacrifices in the past decade.
The new community
The Dog Republic is one of the fictional works that dealt with the immigration of Syrians to Europe, where the novelist lives among immigrants and tries to express the hopes and frustrations of many from immigration, which carries with it another face of illusion, pains and alienation, according to his estimation.
The author shows the crisis of Syrian immigrants in Germany, through intertwining stories, dominated by the discussion of identity and dual belonging, through characters who live in many struggles in order to obtain a more luxurious life, but these characters quickly wake up from the delusion and pain they are suffering in exile.
Human as a number
In his newly released novel by Dar Khatt wa Shallal, Jordan, Amman (2020), the author captures the idea of the Syrian’s trauma with the new reality after asylum, and views it as an extension of the trauma of the East with the West, by focusing on comparing the vision of both sides of the dog.
The author explains in his novel – which is the 29th book in his series of publications, between poetry, narration, criticism and study – that the dog remains loyal to its owner in any case, and he makes many comparisons between the reality of the dog in his country, by using the author’s memory as a child and the reality of the dog in Europe , As it is classified in the “rank of pre-male refugee, who lacks the tools of his masculinity, and becomes just a number,” according to the novel.
The protagonist of the novel, Alan Naqshbandi, explains that the arrangement of places in this new society is based on the priority of the child, and then the woman, the dog, the man, which the protagonist, who is the narrator himself, cannot comprehend, as the problems of refugees in adapting to different civilizations and laws remain an obsession It terrifies them and exposes them to dangers in reality, and sometimes puts them under legal accountability, as he put it.
Al-Youssef, the author of the novel, says that “one of the first vocabulary of daily life, in the new place, the relationship with what is a daily part of the life of the Western European host – and here the German in particular – who lives with 10 million dogs, and it is easy to realize this by glancing at the passers-by. In the streets, parks, on the banks of rivers and lakes, and in public or private transportation, including trains and buses, internal transport. The dog is part of this new society, and perhaps one of those who did not like this relationship as a result of a specific culture that I was brought up with, in my conservative family.
On the other hand, the Syrian novelist critic Thaer Al-Nashif, who resides in Austria, believes that “the narrator went far in probing the dog worlds and exploring them in his new alienation that led him to Germany, although the literary arena is not without some narratives that discussed the essence of the intimate relationship between humans and dogs or others.” From domestic and wild animals – such as the relationship of al-Farazdaq (the famous Umayyad poet) with a wolf, for example – the narrator’s handling of that relationship did not come spontaneously or merely a personal whim of concealment.
The narrator reviews the details of the life that he and his family opened their eyes to, in their motherland, The protagonist complains about this reality before he gets acquainted with a German widow forty, who was the wife of a German oil expert and his private driver in the Iraq war as a result of the bombing of the car he was carrying and his wife, fleeing Mosul, where he worked, heading to Baghdad, to save his wife, and his fate and the driver remain Anonymous.
The story reaches its climax, when the hero discovers that his blonde German girlfriend, who tried to help him learn the language, is the granddaughter of a close associate of the Nazi leader Hitler, which makes him fear her, especially when he learns that she has an inscription in her grandfather’s handwriting about Hitler’s last days, which contains many diaries The last Adolf Hitler, before her mother inherited this manuscript from her father, who was close to the German leader in his last days as a dog trainer.
The fear that the protagonist lived in erupts from the depths of his soul, and pushes him to pressure this woman to hand over the manuscript to the responsible authorities, fearing that the punishment will affect him if the manuscript is discovered, and indeed the lady hands it over to the officials but her psychological state worsens, because she betrayed the trust delivered to her generation after generation .
This psychological crisis prompts the woman to attempt suicide, then her dog, Rocky, dies, and the local police begin to investigate, as the protagonist was accused of assaulting the dog and even its owner, but Bianca returns and acquitted him and says that she has already attempted suicide and the dog died in grief.
The protagonist had spoken to the German woman (Bianca Schneider) about his experience with the harshness of dealing between dogs in his Kurdish village in the motherland, and explained how the village dogs define their own areas and prevent dogs from other areas from penetrating their surroundings, and if something like that happens, a heated battle rages between the dogs of this One side of the village and the other side.
Al-Youssef continues in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, “With this, I rely on the same narrative text to answer any questions such as: Was my bet on this being that has become attached to our daily life? Is present in it, we hardly get rid of it, whether we sit in a cafeteria?” Or a restaurant, or even a language institute, as he possesses immunity that opens many doors for him. “
The dog is between two civilizations
For his part, Thaer Al-Nashif told Al-Jazeera Net that the author also wanted to emphasize that “the value of a person in his society is the value of the dog itself, so the cruelty and cruelty that the dog touches – as appears in the village of Tal Effendi, the writer’s birthplace – touches the human eye.”
The novel benefits, in a small part, from the narration of memories and the art of writing biographies, and depends on the suspense, sometimes by the nature of the event, and at the other by the smooth and attractive language, without the writer losing contact with his reader.
The novelist critic Thaer Al-Nashif asserts that “the construction of the novel was replete with events and historical facts by addressing Hitler’s relationship with dogs, which reflects the relationship of Europeans before and after the war with this pet, as well as the deep symbolic connotations that shed dazzling light on the disparate societal cultures between East and West in a way.” Handling the dog. “
For her part, Director of the House of Lines and Shadows Publishing, Dr. Hana Al-Bawab, assures Al-Jazeera Net that “The Dog Republic is a novel that rises to the ranks of bold writing,” adding, “Ibrahim Al-Youssef was able to reach the summit through his narration, imposing all the restrictions of the Arabic word,” as she put it.
The novel “The Dog Republic” embodies what the author considers “the illusions of immigrants who have turned into people in crisis in societies that do not understand their values and principles, to live a double struggle between their homelands and their emergency identities, where the hopes of some of them are mixed with frustrations, while the feelings of others have faded, and they no longer feel the pain of alienation. And they do not understand what affiliation they live, and some have ended their fate in psychiatric institutions, while others, waiting to return to the homeland, struggle in the face of erasure. “
The novel attracts its reader, since its first adventure to read it, by adopting a transparent, everyday language that raises important questions regarding a historical problematic issue that is renewed, through a narrative perspective, and this is what qualifies it to be among the fictional works worthy of reading and criticism.