In 2016, I went to a reading at the Leipzig Book Fair and heard Jayrôme C. Robinet for the first time – and it was awesome. (If you ever get the chance to hear him read, go for it!) I decided to get his book Das Licht ist weder gerecht noch ungerecht: a collection of writing in different media. The media that are used are: spoken word, theater monologue, short stories and lyrical prose. There’s also an audio CD included, on which the author reads three of the written pieces.
The writing discusses identity, trans-discrimination and living in Germany as a French man. It’s #ownvoices.
While reading this book, I felt like I was reading a secret and personal diary. It’s a deep and emotional book, and at times rather difficult to read. The topics are quite heavy. However, I thought it was thoroughly worth it.
The writing in this book is amazing. Each medium conveyed the messages and emotions of the stories in different ways, and each story fits perfectly to the medium. I felt like the author put a lot of thought into deciding which story is told in which medium.
When I realised that the author discusses the racism he experienced, I was wondering what on earth he was talking about seeing as he is white. However, the interesting aspect was that not all German people read him as white. Thus, I found his take on his experience of racism very interesting.
The first poem was the one that most resonated with me. It discusses diversity in Germany and which ethnicities are welcomed here. It also touched on bilingualism and which languages are seen as ‘good’ languages to speak and which aren’t. This was quite a personal topic for me. English is usually seen as a ‘good’ language. I know white mixed people who get a pat on the back for having English as one of their native languages, while I, as a brown mixed person, have been told to stop speaking English and focus on German, even though both are my native languages.
Another poem that I enjoyed and found very important was Liebe Cis-Leute (English: Dear Cis People). It’s a variation of the poem Dear Straight People by Denise Froham. I thought that the structure of the poem was great for the emotions and anger that was being conveyed. The piece is very direct and he doesn’t mince his words in anyway. I first heard him perform this at the Leipzig Book Fair, and both that performance and the audio CD were so strong and made the piece even better than it already was.
There was one issue I had with the book and that was when he compared Germany treats immigrants differently depending on the immigration background to Germany having multiple personality disorder. I thought this was an ableist comparison.
I loved this book. It’s critical and discusses discrimination against transgender people and immigrants directly and without any I-have-to-make-sure-cis-and-white-people-feel-comfortable language. I learnt a great deal. The writing was amazing and I enjoyed the different types of media used. I’m glad that there’s a beautifully-written book in German that discusses these topics.
Trigger warnings: suicide, transphobia.
This review is part of the German Diverse Books project (#DeutscheDiversityBücher). The book is only available in German.
Have you read Das Licht ist weder gerecht noch ungerecht? Would you be interested in doing so?