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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Germanic Languages & Literatures

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The terms “refugees” and “refugee crisis” have been prominent in media discourse all over the world – especially since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and large incoming numbers of refugees into Europe since 2015. Germany, whose media initially celebrated its “Willkommenskultur”, has become increasingly critical of refugees; political and civic exclusion has intensified, and emphasis has been placed on belonging based on peoples’ passports and hence nationalities, which determine whether or not someone belongs in a country. The author Olga Grjasnow, born 1984 in Baku, Azerbaijan and who is of Russian-Jewish descent, took on the task of describing the horrific circumstances in Syria in the midst of its ongoing civil war in her latest novel, entitled Gott ist nicht schüchtern (2017). Moreover, she depicts individuals’ flight across the ocean and their eventual arrival and life in Germany. In her book, Olga Grjasnowa describes the lives of three young Syrian individuals and their extremely limited possibilities of leading a free, peaceful life due to their nationality and the resulting closing of diverse borders for them.Based on the scholarly discourse on transnational fiction and how this work may or may not fit into this notion, especially with regard to globalization and powerful nations’ economic interests, this thesis seeks to analyze how nationalist and capitalist policy makings affect people in drastic ways, as they find themselves uprooted and persecuted.By excluding a Western narrative voice, Olga Grjasnowa zooms in on the lives of Syrians and their hopeless circumstances, while showing how a “wrong” passport makes life for people difficult to navigate in Syria, Germany and beyond. By means of close reading, I analyze the novel pertaining to the war in Syria and the resulting politics, media coverage and individual “fate”, which is tied to limitations for people to escape these circumstances based on documents and national borders.


First Advisor

Jonathan Skolnik

Second Advisor

Alicia Ellis