Read Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni Anselm Hollo Online


“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book ReviewOVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDEWhen a Turkish laborer is stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, the local polcie see no need to work overtime. But when the laborer's wife comes to him for help, wise-cracking detective Kemal Kayankaya, a“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book ReviewOVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDEWhen a Turkish laborer is stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, the local polcie see no need to work overtime. But when the laborer's wife comes to him for help, wise-cracking detective Kemal Kayankaya, a Turkish immigrant himself, smells a rat. The dead man wasn't the kind of guy who spent time with prostitutes. What gives? The deeper he digs, the more Kayankaya finds that the vitim was a good guy, a poor immigrant just trying to look out for his family. So who wanted him dead, and why? On the way to find out, Kayankaya has run-ins with prostitutes and drug addicts, gets beaten up by anonymous thugs, survives a gas attack, and suffers several close encounters with a Fiat. And then there's the police cover-up he stumbles upon ......

Title : Happy Birthday, Turk!
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781935554202
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Happy Birthday, Turk! Reviews

  • Rachel Hall
    2019-04-18 07:35

    Waking 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 1980's 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, Ahmed's, 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 doesn't 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 Ahmed's 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-law's 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.

  • Gisela Hafezparast
    2019-04-20 08:40

    Really good, fast read. This series of 5 books was written in the 80s, chronicling some of the social and cultural topics and very much reminds me of what was happening in Germany during my teenage years. The prejudices and dependencies of both the German as well as Turkish (and any other "Gastarbeiter" nationals) people towards each other is clearly shown. Whilst the detective is very much of the old school hard-living and hard-drinking lonely wolf type, the culture perspective of the books remind you more of Henning Mankell's books. Looking at the books from a 21st century point of view, you also notice how incredibly far most European nations, but definitely Germany, has come in accepting different ways of life, but also benefiting from these differences. Germany's prosperity then and now is greatly aided by immigrants, be it immigrants from other European countries, Turkey or the recent flood of immigrants from Syria and other places. I have just spend 3 weeks in Germany, and as a German national living in the UK, I have to say I was quite proud of how much Germany has learned to accept and integrate people and to look at them not only as an obligation but as a benefit to society. I will certainly try and read all 5 books and it is a shame that the author died, as it would be really interesting to see how his writing would have developed. Highly recommend these for a quick, but interesting read.

  • Stavroula P.
    2019-04-23 01:53

    Αν και γενικά δεν μου αρέσουν τέτοιου είδους βιβλία, το συγκεκριμένο ήταν αρκετά καλό. Κατά λάθος έπεσε στα χέρια μου και εφόσον ήταν μικρό αποφάσισα να κάνω μία προσπάθεια να το διαβάσω. Ομολογώ ότι στην αρχή δεν με κέρδισε άλλα όσο κυλούσαν οι σελίδες τόσο το ενδιαφέρον αυξάνονταν. Δεν το άφησα μέχρι να αποκαλυφθεί ο δολοφόνος και η αιτία. Άξιζε η ανάγνωσή του εν τέλει.

  • Tfitoby
    2019-03-26 07:40

    A quick and interesting noir read, written in the early 80s and with a special focus on the stigma attached to Turkish immigrant population in West Germany. This was Jakob Arjouni writing his debut novel at the age of 20 and it feels fresh and brash, playing fast and loose with genre conventions and carving a unique little space in the world of international noir with a social conscience. I shall be checking out more of this series, especially if they're all under 200 pages.

  • WortGestalt
    2019-04-20 09:38

    Dieses Buch fand ich so großartig, dass ich gar nicht weiß, wohin mit all meiner Freude! Bücher, die einen so richtig begeistern, sind immer etwas ganz besonderes und es fällt mir schwer, "Happy birthday, Türke!" mit Worten gerecht zu werden. Denn wenn ein Buch es mir so richtig angetan hat, dann neige ich auch leicht zur Glorifizierung. Daher kann es gut sein, dass ich schlichtweg blind bin für eventuelle Schwächen, die „Happy birthday, Türke“ haben könnte. Denn auch, wenn ich beispielsweise das Ende recht früh erahnen konnte, war die Geschichte in meinen Augen so genial erzählt, so rund, so zufriedenstellend in allen für mich relevanten Punkten, was bleibt mir da mehr, als begeistert zu sein?!Besonders, da ich von Hause aus eine Schwäche für diese Art von Detektivromanen habe. Der hartgesottene Privatdetektiv, der sein Whiskeyglas nicht nur in einem Zug leert, sondern es auch ohne mit der Wimper zu zucken zerkaut, hinunterschluckt, aufsteht, loszieht und seinen verdammten Fall klärt. Für diese Art von Figurenzeichnung sollte man ein wenig Begeisterungsfähigkeit mitbringen, um Freude an den Geschichten um den Frankfurter Privatdetektiv Kemal Kayankaya zu haben.Kemal Kayankaya, 26, Privatdetektiv in Frankfurt am Main, versteht wunderbar hessisch, aber kein Wort türkisch. Da fühlen sich schon die ersten auf den Schlips getreten, türkische wie hessische Mitbürger. In Ankara geboren, ist er nach dem Tod seiner Eltern in Frankfurt am Main aufgewachsen, ein hessischer Bub durch und durch quasi, auch wenn seine Mitmenschen in ihm nur den Türken sehen. Es gibt viele Szenen, die das Thema aufgreifen und erstaunlich wenige Menschen in diesem Buch, die ohne Schranken denken können. Bedenkt man, dass „Happy birthday, Türke“ in den frühen 1980er Jahren geschrieben wurde, fällt auf, dass... ja, was eigentlich? Dass auch in den 80er Jahren Alltagsrassismus überall anzutreffen war? Dass Menschen damals auch nicht klüger waren, nicht toleranter? Aber es gibt wie immer beide Seiten, die netten und die garstigen, auch im Buch. Damals und heute.Und das Buch will da auch gar nicht mit dem erhobenen Zeigefinger mahnen, zumindest kam es mir so nicht vor. Es bildet einfach die Realität ab, gerade was die sozialkritischen Themen angeht. Die Story selbst ist fiktiv und dabei ein absolut stimmiger Kriminalfall. Und es geht ordentlich zur Sache, ganz so, wie ich es mir bei einem Privatdetektiv-Krimi vorstelle. Da wird ordentlich ausgeteilt und eingesteckt, im Milieu ermittelt, man trifft sich in dunklen Gassen und in noch dunkleren Kneipen, Fäuste fliegen, ebenso die dicken Sprüche, und das alles mit einer klitzekleinen Prise Humor, einer Art Nonchalance. Ganz der toughe Typ, trotz zerschlagener Nase. Zugeschwollenes Auge, Tritte in die Nieren, ach was, das macht doch nichts. Ein Indianer kennt keinen Schmerz. Ein Privatdetektiv auch nicht. Diese Attitüde macht für mich den Charme solcher Geschichten aus.Charme hat auch die Art, wie Jakob Arjouni die Geschichte erzählt. Sehr konzentriert und doch mit ein paar Anekdoten hier und da kommt ein perfektes Lesetempo zustande, auf gerade einmal 170 Seiten entsteht eine Geschichte, die man auf 400 Seiten auch nicht besser hätte erzählen können. Es ist einfach alles drin, alles dran. Ein Privatdetektivkrimi, hard-boiled wie man es aus den USA kennt, aber dabei doch ganz verwurzelt in dem, was die damals noch deutsch-deutsche Geschichte prägte. Ein Kriminalroman mit einem starken Zeitgeist.Jakob Arjouni hat neben zahlreichen anderen Romanen insgesamt 5 Bände der Kemal Kayankaya-Reihe geschrieben, der letzte Band „Bruder Kemal“ erschien 2012. Der Autor verstarb 2013 und hinterlässt mit seinem Werk einen der wichtigsten Wegsteine der jüngeren, deutschsprachigen Kriminalliteratur. Fazit: Hier ist einfach alles stimmig, ein wunderbares Stück Kriminalliteratur! Der Privatdetektiv Kemal Kayankaya ist mit seinen 26 Jahren noch nicht ganz so abgefuckt wie manch andere Ermittler in diesem Genre, hat aber trotzdem die nötige Tiefe und die richtige Einstellung, um als Figur zu funktionieren und zu begeistern. Ein Krimi, den man lesen sollte, wenn man sich ein umfangreiches Bild von der jüngeren, deutschsprachigen (Krimi-)Literatur machen möchte.Bewertung: Stil: 5/5 | Idee: 4/5 | Umsetzung: 5/5 | Figuren: 5/5 | Plot-Entwicklung: 5/5Tempo: 5/5 | Tiefe: 5/5 | Komplexität: 4/5 | Lesespaß: 5/5Rezension von WortGestalt

  • j
    2019-04-15 07:29

    You know, I didn't think "A German detective novel, THAT'LL be a laugh riot!" but I guess I should have. LOVED this book and am moving onto the other ones in the series. Arjouni does noir with a smirk. It reminds me a bit of a very German James Ellroy--tons of wordplay, an awareness of social commentary, and quick punchy dialog delivered by a grizzled, world-weary, not-entirely-a-good-guy protagonist. The story itself is short and relatively straightforward, in a way that avoids the crazy-complicated pretentiousness that a lot of modern mystery novels suffer from. (Ooo, grammar.) I'm still amazed that this book was so good when I'm not even reading it in the original language, and I have to give major props to Anselm Hollo, who translated it.If you like hardboiled detective fiction, you may find it a bit ridiculous, but I'd definitely suggest giving it a shot. And DEFINITELY if you read a lot of Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes as a kid. Okay, I am going to stop writing and go read the second book :P

  • Ping Naka
    2019-04-15 03:52

    I learned about this book from following Ric Jerrom who narrates "Past Tense" by Catherine Aird.Ric Jerrom gives a spectacular performance in this book too.Kayankaya is a private investigator and a little on a violent side. In fact, there are a lot of beating up in this book more than I normally encounter in my usual cozy mystery reading or listening.I don't like the end of the book much.

  • Maddy
    2019-03-26 02:24

    Although he was born in Turkey, Kemal Kayankaya has lived all but one year of his life in Germany. After his parents both died, he was adopted and raised by a German family and became a German citizen. In spite of that, he is still an outsider. Other people judge him on his outward characteristics, and he is subjected to verbal and physical harassment because of his racial background. And he can't even speak Turkish! Kayankaya is a private investigator, and he is hired by a fellow Turk to investigate the murder of her husband, Ahmed Hamul. He was stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, and the police have basically done nothing to find out what happened. Kayankaya has precious little to work with, but he scrapes up some information that leads him to a prostitute. Hamul's family is of little help; they seem curiously uninformed about what he was doing with the last few years of his life. Kayankaya is a definite representation of the hard-boiled dick, living a hard-drinking, spare life. As he begins the case, he is also celebrating his 26th birthday. Well, if you can call getting pulverized by a pimp and otherwise mistreated celebrating. Within the three days that he spends on the case, he is savagely beaten, almost run down by a car and attacked with tear gas. He finds evidence of drug dealing and police corruption; and eventually, he exacts justice for more than one victim. Although the protagonist has been compared to Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, I found the link to be tenuous at best. Kayankaya proceeds by interviewing several people. He teams up with a retired police lieutenant named Loff who is bored with his life. I didn't really see why Loff put so much effort into helping Kayankaya out; there didn't seem to be much motivation for him to go out of the way and endanger himself just because he's bored. The book is billed as "pitch-black noir". I would agree that it is hard-boiled, but the "noir" label just doesn't seem to fit, in my opinion. The story doesn't have that doomed sense of hopelessness and bleakness that I associate with noir. Overall, I was neutral about the book. I think it had possibilities that weren't realized. The racial tension could have been escalated; the characters weren't fleshed out enough to care about. The book is translated from the German, so it may have lost something in the telling.

  • Anna
    2019-04-06 03:38

    Quite a bit of Hammett and Chandler in the style, and a lot of humor both in the things Kayankaya sees and in everything that happens around him. Brilliant. A hard-boiled Turkish private investigator from Frankfurt, and this starts the series. Classically chandlery, yet modern. This just has to be my favorite detective/policesque hero set in Germany - simply because I can't think of any others that I might enjoy as much. (If y'all know any, please suggest. I like my heroes with an edge, like Harry Hole, Harry Bosch, Kari Vaara, Lisbeth Salander, Konrad Sejer, inspector Winter...)

  • Baris Balcioglu
    2019-03-31 09:40

    Valla Almanca yorum yazamayacağım. Zaten 100 sayfasını okuyup yıllarca ara vermiştim. Şimdi bir iki günde bitirdim. Polisiye olduğu için de Almanca da olduğundan ne kadar anladım kimbilir. Ama belki daha geyik bir romanla Almanca serüvenini canlı tutabilirim. Şimdi endişem Fransızcayı unutmuş olmak. Bu romandan aklımda kalacak sözcük arsch. Jemand sözcüğünü de yanlış biliyormuşum. Bir sürü başka sözcüğü yine öğrenemedim. Ah ah!

  • Voluntarystress
    2019-03-29 06:38

    A delightful detective novella, full of humorous irony. Read on Kindle. I had enjoyed what was sadly this author's final book when it was sent to me by Real Reader, so I'm endeavouring to catch up with the previous four books. A German author who has created a private detective of Turkish extraction brought up as a German, who breaks all the rules, and seems to take nothing too seriously. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Heidi
    2019-04-18 05:37

    Billed as a Turkish-German Sam Spade, Kayankaya is much more fascinating that that. He's a fish out of water with a twist: born in Turkey, raised by German foster parents in Frankfurt, he doesn't speak a word of Turkish, yet he's always taken for a foreigner due to his appearance and Turkish name. A page turner in the classic hard-boiled P.I. genre.

  • Deanne
    2019-03-31 03:39

    So so read but this maybe due to the translation and not the original, seems almost rushed.

  • Thomas Hübner
    2019-04-19 04:24 Kayankaya – the name is without doubt Turkish. But Kemal doesn’t speak Turkish because he was adopted by a German couple when he was still a toddler. His parents, immigrants from Anatolia in Frankfurt/Main, died young. And so Kemal grew up like any other German child, except for his name.A very clever choice by the author, I can say. Because it makes the hero of Happy Birthday, Turk! a born outsider - for many Germans he is the Turk who they think cannot speak proper German and should probably work as a garbage collector and for the Turks he is encountering in his work as a private investigator he is the fellow countryman who truly understands them because he has the same background as they do. But both sides are wrong.In reality this cocky, quick-witted young man in his late twenties with the talent for seeking trouble who after several attempts to find his true vocation somehow acquired a license for his business, and who has an issue with alcohol, is – like many literary heroes of this genre – a romantic to the core. Just scratch a bit on the surface and you will see…And this is the case with which the Philip Marlowe of Frankfurt has to deal in this book:Ahmed Hamul, the husband of Ilter, Kayankaya's client, was found stabbed to death on the streets of Frankfurt's red light district. Since the police is not very eager to solve the case and because the wife has little trust in them, she is asking her alleged compatriot for help to find out who murdered her husband. Kayankaya accepts and finds himself soon in a case that gets much bigger than he initially thought.While meeting the family, K. remarks that the brother-in-law has a particularly low opinion of the victim and except for Ahmet's widow nobody seems really very interested in finding the truth. Also that the family is hiding the youngest daughter under the pretext that she is ill is a hint for the private eye that something is fishy here.The police proves little willingness to give the needed information to Kemal and his impudent behavior to some of the admittetly racist policemen doesn't exactly help. Kommissar Futt (a dialect word for vagina by the way), one of the least endearing exemplars in this biotop is leading the investigation and makes it a personal issue to keep Kayankaya, who fooled him once as alleged investigator from the Turkish Embassy, in the dark.But fortunately, Kayankaya is in friendly terms with the retired police commissioner Löff who is pulling some strings with his former colleagues and is also later of great help. The slightly chaotic Kayankaya and his unofficial assistant who in his very German pedantic way tries to teach his friend some order and discipline and organization are an odd couple and this adds to the humor in the book which is frequently supported by witty dialogues and descriptions.While some facts are hinting at a conflict in the red light district - Ahmet had obviously a girl friend among the prostitutes there - it is soon obvious that the issue is bigger than Kayankaya thought. It turns out that Ahmet was close with his father-in-law, who got killed in a car accident just months before. Unless the car accident wasn't exactly an accident as one of the children that witnessed the event, claimed. But Kayankaya cannot ask the child, because it too fell victim to an accident...I don't want to give the whole story away, that would spoil the fun for possible future readers of the book. Honestly speaking, the plot was rather conventional and I saw it more or less coming from an early stage of the book.But when this sounds a bit derogative, I don't really mean it. Arjouni was 23 when the book was published first and it is quite an accomplishment for such a young author to deliver such a fast-paced classical hardboiled crime novel with an interesting main character.And there is more to the book. As someone who has lived in Frankfurt for several years in the 1990s I can say that the book gives an authentic impression of the place to its readers. Starting from the Frankfurt dialect that is used in the German version (yes, Kayankaya "babbelt" frequently in Frankfurterish - how funny is that?) to the description of the locations ("Wasserhäuschen" inclusive - a kind of kiosk open 24/7, literally "little water house", the typical place for an alcoholic to buy and drink his booze), it all fits. And there is plenty of hilarious situations that give Kayankaya not only opportunity for acerbic or ironic remarks but also for a playful inventiveness on his (and the author's) side.Was Frankfurt, the city with the highest percentage of migrants (and the highest crime rate in Germany) really that racist in the 1980s? I cannot really say from my own experience - but I am not a migrant and my living conditions and the milieu in which I lived and worked there a few years later were very different from Kayankaya's. Since the whole book is so well written and researched, probably it was.A good decision by the author was also to choose Frankfurt and not Berlin as the location for this novel. In no other place in Germany is the connection between big money and crime so tangible as here, no other city in Germany looks like a miniature version of Metropolis, no other city has this mixture of backwater mentality and delusions of grandeur.The only bad thing about the book is that it is such a fast read. I finished it in one sitting during a flight from Istanbul to Almaty. But there are four more Kayankaya novels and I am quite sure you will like all of them. (The whole set is translated and available in the Melville International Crime series)Jakob Arjouni died last year after a long battle with cancer. A real loss for German literature and especially for crime fiction afficionados. I can also strongly recommend his Magic Hoffmann, a crime novel too (but without Kayankaya).

  • Mary Warnement
    2019-04-17 08:39

    I thought this mystery set in Frankfurt was the first in the series, but I think the publication dates of the reprints fooled KDL, my usual reliable source. Oh well. I'll read another. These were first published in the 1980s, and it's interesting to read about a different time when phone booths and phone books were a regular part of life. This is the seedier side of Frankfurt and Germany. Can you really buy Scotch in fast food restaurants? I'm interested in the Turkish-born German author. I haven't been to Frankfurt yet, but he paints a picture of a place--even if it's part of the urban society that I don't usually see no matter what city I'm in. We're staying not far from the train station, so I'll get a glimpse of the area Arjouni wrote about.

  • Kerstin Herbert
    2019-04-18 09:38

    Ein absolut lesenswertes Buch, das ich an einem Nachmittag gelesen habe.Die knappe, treffende Sprache und der derbe Humor von Jakob Arjouni machten mir große Freude. Mit Kemal Kayankaya ist ihm eine authentische Romanfigur gelungen, mit deren Hilfe er - verpackt in einem spannenden und brutalen Kriminalfall im Frankfurter Bahnshofsviertel - die in den 80er Jahren wie heute alltäglichen Vorurteile und Anfeindungen gegen türkischstämmiger Deutsche für den Leser erfahrbar macht. Nur gut, dass Kemal Kayankaya dem bis auf wenige Ausnahmen mit Humor und Sarkasmus zu begegnen weiß.

  • Charles Kerns
    2019-04-09 09:45

    Take the wise-cracking detective and move him to Germany. Make him a Turk who speaks nothing but German raised by an echtes-deutsches-Blut family. Make him mean, nasty and short. Sling everyday racist slurs from fat drunk Germans, even from sober ones. Give him a murder to chew on. No grace, no charm, just tired and bulldogging his way towards the end. Not fun, but a long look at low-class Frankfurt.

  • Paul michael Floyd
    2019-03-30 09:31

    A good classic hard boiled PI novelA good interplay between the Germans in turks in this novel. Interesting many years later it has a modern feel to it and it's one of those classic hard boiled PI novels. First in the series for me I think I may try another one. If you like the classic 1930s and 40s noir novel this one would be for you.

  • Amber
    2019-04-18 06:48

    A short, super quick read. Kept my interest, but wasn’t really as engaging as I’d hoped? Interesting cultural perspectives.

  • Dave
    2019-04-11 06:35

    Not a bad little mystery. The story itself isn't particularly innovative but the fact that the PI is a Turk allows Arjouni to poke at social issues in 1980s Germany in an interesting way.

  • Larissa
    2019-04-06 07:40

    Review of Melville House's new crime imprint and the Kayankaya series in particular (including Happy Birthday, Turk!, One Man, One Murder, More Beer, and Kismet) published in The L Magazine. See review (here: or full text below.***“Crime=Culture.” So says Dumbo publisher Melville House about their new imprint, Melville International Crime. MIC represents the publisher’s latest venture to expand their existing catalog of fiction in translation, but although Melville House has introduced innovative series before, cultivating a line of international crime novels is not a particularly new idea. Gowanus-based Akashic Books launched its city-specific Noir series in 2004, and Soho Crime was dedicated to armchair travel and murder long before the Stieg Larsson boom. However, it is interesting to see a boutique press like Melville turn its attention to genre fiction.Among the first books published by MIC are the “Kanyankaya Thrillers” by German author Jakob Arjouni. His private eye Kemal Kanyankaya is a character straight out of Hammet and a quintessential outsider-investigator: an ethnic Turk raised by adoptive German parents, he has always lived between two worlds in his hometown of Frankfurt, never entirely comfortable in either.Happy Birthday, Turk! (easily the best in the series) finds the down-and-out Kanyankaya hired by a Turkish woman to track down the killer of her husband, a laborer whose death isn’t a high priority for local police. More Beer takes the suspicious conviction of four “eco-terrorists”in a bombing and murder as its premise; in One Man, One Murder, a German man hires the PI to find his girlfriend, a Thai prostitute who was kidnapped while trying to collect forged visa papers. Kismet, the most recent installment, finds Kanyankaya facing off with a violent Croatian gang. All unfold in a matter of days and are laced with Kanyankaya’s engagingly laconic sarcasm. There’s also a frank brutality which affirms the high stakes of each case and the lengths that Kanyankaya will go to get his man: he’s drugged, attacked by rats, suffers joint dislocations, is locked in a room full of tear gas, and is roundly beaten on numerous occasions.Individually, however, the series is spotty. In both More Beer and One Man, One Murder, the intrigues become so entangled that it’s hard to care when Kanyankaya reveals whodunit—after making several key discoveries to which the reader is not privy. The detective’s understandable bitterness at being treated as an interloper or a fetish object feels increasingly belabored as he subjects every potential client to the same litmus test: “You must have checked the Yellow Pages. But why Kanyankaya, why not Müller?”And while he continues to investigate several cases after being fired and gives an impassioned speech about disenfranchised immigrants in Germany, he’s by no means an idealist. Treating housewives, prostitutes, buddies, and corrupt officials with equal disdain, it’s hard to believe that he ever cares much about the people involved in his investigations—he just wants the satisfaction of winning.With this new imprint, Melville is capitalizing on their strengths in ways which stand to benefit both their current and potential audiences. Crime fiction fans are generally completists who want to read all of a favorite detective’s cases—even the rocky ones. And Melville has a knack for series—they’ve resurrected the novella as a viable (and marketable) form with their brilliant “Art of the Novella” line, establishing their press as a quality arbiter of taste while also engendering something like brand loyalty.By expanding into international crime fiction, Melville stands to create a similar loyalty among new readers. Any even marginally good crime novel serves as a shorthand introduction to the social concerns, epochal tensions, and defining fears of its culture, the way the Kanyankaya thrillers address Germany’s struggle with immigration, cultural inclusion, and nationalism. Crime is culture, made accessible.

  • David Fulmer
    2019-04-01 01:33

    The title of this short, quick-witted private eye novel by Jakob Arjouni set in Frankfurt in the early 1980s is the sarcastic statement made by a prostitute in Milly’s Sex Bar who’s just asked the narrator, a hard working, hard boiled private detective named Kemal Kayankaya, if he’s a cop. When he shows her his private eye’s license and she notes his date of birth he sees she’s sharper than what he expected. It’s a bit like this novel which features every cliche you’d expect from a novel about a private eye hired by a widow to investigate the murder of her husband but still manages to avoid being stale. There’s the ransom-style note made from letters cut out of newspapers taped to the private eye’s door warning him not to continue his investigation, the shady drug dealers who were seen hanging out with the murder victim, and the nasty cops who seem like they’ve got something to hide. What’s so impressive about this novel is the way that all these familiar elements are wrapped up in a story that feels totally fresh and original. Part of that is the setting in the seedy neighborhoods of Frankfurt where drug dealers rub shoulders with the Turkish population - a large minority in Germany which does the jobs white Germans don’t want to do. This reads like a European Union report narrated by Philip Marlowe. Kayankaya’s mother died when he was born and his father moved from Turkey to Germany and worked with garbage. He was killed in an accident and Kayanka was adopted after living in an orphanage. Kayankaya has a cool, breezy way with his descriptions of the filthy streets and unappealing characters he comes across in his investigation. Another part of it is the amusing comments made by Kayankaya like when he finds the floor of a men’s room covered in vomit: “Someone had not been feeling too good.” The whole story unfolds in just three days and the plot wraps up a little too neatly though not without at least one surprising twist. This is the first book in a series of Kayankaya novels and it’s a very exciting beginning indeed.

  • Blue
    2019-04-14 03:49

    Happy Birthday Turk! is rife with noir cliches. A private eye who does not eat anything for days; he is so tough that he just drinks coffee and alcohol. He gets beaten up, his eye swollen shut and his jaw bleeding, yet he can go on to investigate crimes, interview people, chase down criminals. The plot is obvious from the very beginning and everything unravels very easily: It seems that people are just waiting to be asked to spill the beans. Perhaps the only redeeming quality is the "ethnic" identity of the private eye, a German-Turk, who is pretty German in culture, but looks like a Turk. So there is some biting commentary, and some incidences written into the plot, that bring out this aspect of the main character. He has a witty and fast mouth, which he uses well to dish out advice for those unfortunate enough to discriminate against him due to his looks or those who assume he is just another Turk. But then again, he also thinks Turkey is a dictatorship so who knows what that's all about... Maybe it is on purpose, to show us that Kayankaya is just like the other ignorant Germans, or it is a mistake the author made, or maybe the translator chose "dictatorship" but the actual text said "democratic rule often overseen by the military"? Also the whole family structure of the Turkish family (of the murder victim) is wrong. To imagine such an obedient and quiet mother-in-law, to the point that she'd remain silent when one of her daughters "gets sick" is unbelievable. I hear that the translation is actually pretty good, so I am going to guess that, like most noir out there, the book was written in the choppy style that dwells way too much on minute-by-minute movements of the main character (i.e. "I opened the door. I walked in. I sat down. I reached for the glass on the table. I poured myself some water.") Just how many times can a smell "hit" someone's "nostrils"? Many, many, many times.

  • Brian Stoddart
    2019-03-30 01:35

    I was curious to read this as had heard quite a bit about Arjouni as a great talent cut off at a relatively early age. He reads a bit like a European Chandler with some great if sometimes mystifying one-liners and descriptions: "the room looked like an aquarium full of cocoa."The idea is great - a Turkish by descent private eye in Germany who speaks no Turkish, here gets hired by a Turkish woman to investigate the death of her husband who turns out to have been a drug dealer enmeshed by a gaggle of corrupt cops.Along the way Arjouni captures a lot of the ethnic tesnion that was arising in the Germany of the period, the 80s and the 90s,and a lot of the social desperation that was building. In some ways this is the aftermath of the Philip Kerr/Bernie Gunther era Berlin Noir: March Violets / The Pale Criminal / A German RequiemKayankaya solves the mystery after both undergoing and inflicting a fair amount of violence that somehow sums up the atmosphere Arjouni wanted to convey.It reads well but is probably not as great as I had thought it might be. Even so, still worth reading as an example of world noir.

  • Leanna
    2019-04-04 02:48

    I found Jakob Arjouni’s Happy Birthday, Turk! while googling about the television series Cenk Batu: Undercover Agent. Cenk Batu is a German of Turkish ancestry, and my google search introduced me to a world of Turkish-German television series, movies, and books. Happy Birthday, Turk! was highly recommended on several sites, so I quickly ordered an English translation through my library’s interlibrary loan program.Turk! was a fast read. Kemal Kayankaya is rough-living private investigator that is hired to investigate the murder of a Turkish migrant. I am not sure if it was the translation, but the reading, though fast, was not smooth. I never felt invested in Kayankaya and wasn’t sure how such a lazy, angry, drunken young man was able to solve this crime.This book was valuable to me, though, as a perspective on the Turkish experience in Germany. Though Kayankaya has no ties to Turkey, he suffers from the same discrimination as other Turks in Germany. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the racism and prejudice the Turks experienced in this book, but I was.

  • Kurt
    2019-04-08 08:41

    The 1987 debut of Turkish-German private investigator Kemal Kayankaya is pretty darn good. This book seems historically important to me, as I was a traveller in Germany during the mid-80s and witnessed the likes of many Turkish immigrants making their way in Dusseldorf. Kemal experiences plenty of negative interaction with the xenophobes of Frankfurt, but is one tough dude. He manages to solve the mystery of a murdered fellow Turk in three days by keeping the pressure on a group of local heroin dealers and more than a few lazy cops -- and takes his lumps along the way. Not particularly inclined to continue with any of the other three Kayankaya titles that are available in English, but one never knows.

  • Joanna
    2019-03-27 02:48

    I first heard about this book on the Radio 4 programme 'Foreign Bodies', listed as an example of crime fiction as post war European social commentary. On reading it, I was incredibly impressed at the depth and maturity of a novel written by a white, middle class 20 year old. Although it does not match the intelligence and social conscience of the Martin Beck novels, Arjouni still gives an interesting view of the seedier side of German life. In the end, I felt that the book depended too much on unnecessarily graphic violence, which as the plot advanced, irritated me, as I just thought it would never stand up in court. I would recommend it, if not unconditionally, and will probably read the rest of the series.

  • Tyler Jones
    2019-04-15 05:34

    I was doodling around on Goodreads a week ago and learned that Jakob Arjouni had died a few weeks earlier. Reading a piece by his American publisher ( ), I learned that Arjouni wrote the Kayankaya books while he was in his twenties and the first, Happy Birthday, Turk!, was written when he was only nineteen. I ran out and got a copy. While it is not the most original crime book I've ever read, it is far better that most. To think it was written by a teenager is amazing. Still not as good as the other Kayankaya book I've read (Kismet) and there are a few typos in the Melville House edition, but still a very solid book.

  • Betty
    2019-04-02 09:31

    The liner note proclaims it is the "greatest German mystery novel since World War II". If so, I'll skip any other German mystery novels. Cliche-ridden, the only interest for me was its portrayal of the dark side of Frankfurt and anti-Turk sentiment. Nothing in the book established the character as, for example, skilled in hand-to-hand combat to take down two enormous bodyguards in a brothel. Evidently he lives on Scotch, beer and coffee. I read it, but I didn't buy it. To be fair, the plotting was pretty well done, except for the "warning off" cliches. So, not the worst, but definitely not the greatest.

  • Maui Island
    2019-04-09 08:47

    A Turkish German would be Marlowe private detective is solving the murder of a Turkish drug dealer. It is a good story. But in addition, the portrayal of the treatment of Turks in Germany is very good and powerful. The indignities suffered by immigrants who lived in Germany all their lives, who are German, who are part of the fabric of society is starkly drawn. The writing channels Chandler and Hammett. In German, at least. A snippet I enjoyed: in der Ecke stand eine Musikbox. Mick Jagger hockte drin und blökte You can't always get what you want. Ich habe was gegen gegrölte Lebensweisheiten von Rock-Opas..