Kenan Khadaj

Field of Practice:



Jean-Jacques-Rousseau fellowship

City, Country:

Berlin, Germany

Swaida, Syria




Apr 2021 - June 2021

Born in Swaida/Syria in 1990.

Kenan Khadaj is a journalist, activist and author of literary short stories. Political unrest prevented him from completing his studies in economics and literature in Damascus/Syria. At the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, he was working as a journalist, writing for several Syrian newspapers. He was also involved in a relief project for children and adults disabled by war. When the acts of war grew more acute and political persecution was initiated by the Assad regime (as a result of several of his publications), Kenan had to leave the country and fled to Lebanon. From there, he embarked on the dangerous journey to Europe via the Balkan route, fleeing through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia to Germany. He has been living in Berlin/Germany since May 2015.

Immediately upon his arrival, the newspaper TAZ and Stadtsprachen-Magazin published several of Kenan Khadaj’s journalistic contributions and publications, leading to a subsequent invitation from the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin to participate in the project »VERSschmuggel/reversible.« Lectures within the framework of Poesiefestival Berlin followed. In 2017, several of his short stories were published by Secession Verlag in the anthology Weg sein – Hier sein (Being gone – Being here). The anthology was presented during a lecture at the Buchmesse Leipzig. Since then, Kenan Khadaj‘s short story Ich und die Wunderlampe (Me and the magic lamp) has been performed regularly at readings by actress Katja Riemann. In 2019, he published his first novel Ich bin nicht euer Hampelmann (I am not Your Jumping Jack), released by Neue Nachbarschaft Bücher.

Kenan Khadaj has received invitations to lectures and talks at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, the International Literature Festival Berlin and the Literaturhaus in Berlin’s Fasanenstraße. He participated in the collective WIESE at Neue Nachbarschaft/Moabit and is co-founder of the translator meet-ups »al trifft derdiedas« and »Sprachhäuser« by Leila Chammaa. Kenan works as a translator from German and English to Arabic. Since 2017, he has also worked as project manager for the Haus für Poesie, where he supervised several projects and translator workshops, including »Nahost trifft Europa« and »VERSschmuggel«. The Poesiefestival 2020 saw the premiere of re:writing the borders, a poetry film edited and moderated by Kenan Khadaj.

participated in