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Sasha Marianna Salzmann

Beside Yourself - Novel

(German title: Außer sich)
ca. 366 pages
Clothbound
2017
Sasha Marianna Salzmann
Foto: Sasha Marianna Salzmann
© Heike Steinweg

Sasha Marianna Salzmann was born in Volgograd in 1985 and grew up in Moscow. In 1995, she emigrated with her family to Germany, studied Literature, Theatre and Media at the University of Hildesheim, and Creative Writing for the Stage at the Berlin University of the Arts. Since 2013, Salzmann has been an in-house writer for the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.

During her stay in Istanbul as fellow of the Tarabya Cultural Academy 2012/13, Sasha Marianna Salzmann began writing her debut novel Beside Yourself, which she completed in the following years and during her regular stays in Turkey.

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English world rights (Text), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Portugal (Dom Quixotte), France (Grasset), Italy (Marsilio Editore), Netherlands (Atlas/Contact), Denmark (People’s Press)

Who’s to tell you who you are?

About

There’s the two of them, since the beginning, twins Alissa and Anton. In the small two-bedroom apartment in Moscow during the post-Soviet years, they dig their fingers into each other’s curls when their parents are fighting. Later, in the Western German countryside, they roam the hallways of the asylum home, steal cigarettes from other families’ rooms and smell their perfume bottles. And later still, when Alissa has already dropped out of her mathematics degree at university because it’s keeping her from her boxing training, Anton disappears without a trace. Eventually, a postcard arrives from Istanbul—no text, no return address. Alissa sets out on a search in the shimmering, torn city by the Bosporus and within her own family history—looking for her missing brother, but most of all, searching for the feeling of belonging that isn’t connected to one’s native country, mother tongue, or gender.

The novel tells the story of the past century, along with all its secondary effects palpable in the new millennium. It tells the story of a family across four generations, a story of latent and undisguised antisemitism in the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet era; it tells a story of migration and the shattered hopes for a better life, both in the native country and the foreign one. This is a novel about a young generation with a so-called migrant background that doesn’t know what to make of a term like »home country«, but that still deals with the question of belonging somewhere and with a notion of identity that is deemed questionable; it’s a novel about searching—for a missing brother, for fragments of a family history, for support, for an answer to the question: who’s to tell you who you are?

The novel sets in at the beginning of the 20th century in Odessa, leads from stops in Chernivtsi, Volgograd, and Moscow to Berlin and ends in Istanbul in July of 2016, in the days of a quickly failing coup d’état attempt.

In her debut novel Beside Yourself, Sasha Marianna Salzmann explores this question and tells of the unquenchable yearning for life itself and its challenging immensity. Intense, uncompromising, and political in the best sense.

Praise

»The Maxim Gorki Theatre is ›Theatre of the Year‹ 2016. This is also due to Sasha Marianna Salzmann.« Stefan Grund, Die Welt

»With her sensitive look onto a brutal present and her biographical look backwards, Salzmann is possibly the German playwright of the times.« Detlev Baur, Die Deutsche Bühne