Identitti / Identitti

Mithu Sanyal

Carl Hanser Verlag, February 2021

This book was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2021. As the media partner for the Prize, we publish information on all six shortlisted books.

It’s the 2020s and things are complicated. Then there’s a scandal: Prof. Saraswati is a white woman – and nothing could be worse. Because she holds the chair of Postcolonial Studies in Düsseldorf and is the supreme goddess of identity debates, in which she describes herself as a person of colour. 

Nivedita is flipping out. Born in Germany to an Indian father, she strongly identifies with her professor – but what is identity after all? While Saraswati receives online threats and demonstrators demand her resignation, Nivedita asks her some probing questions: Is our identity just our personality, or is it more defined by our gender or skin colour? Is it possible to get rid of whiteness? What’s sex got to do with it? Mithu Sanyal’s writing is filled with wonderful self-deprecating humour and liberating insights. No one leaves the centrifugal force of this novel in the same way they started. 

Mitu Sanyal was born in Düsseldorf in 1971 and is a cultural scientist, writer, journalist and critic. In 2009, her non-fiction book Vulva. Das unsichtbare Geschlecht was published and in 2016 Vergewaltigung. Aspekte eines Verbrechens. and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

Read a sample translation in English by Lucy Jones here

Read our recommendation of the book here