Sasha Marianna Salzmann

Beside Myself - Novel

Literal translation of German title: Beside Yourself
(German title: Außer sich)
ca. 366 pages
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. Salzmann is a playwright, essayist, curator and writer in residence of Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. She is the co-founder of the culture magazine freitext and was the artistic director of STUDIO Я ( “best experimental stage of the year” 2014). She also co-founded NIDS – New Institute for Drama, where she gives workshops on political writing. Her work is translated, shown and awarded in over 20 countries. In 16/17 she was voted »the German speaking theater maker of the season«. 2017 Salzmann´s finished her first novel, Beside Myself, which is translated into 15 languages and won Mara-Cassens and Jürgen-Ponto awards for best debut novel. It was also shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017 and Premio Strega Europeo 2019.

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English world rights (Text; US/Canada sublicense: The Other Press, US/Canada audio book sublicense: Blackstone), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Catalan rights (Més Llibres), Portugal (Dom Quixote), France (Grasset), Italy (Marsilio Editore), Netherlands (Atlas/Contact), Denmark (People’s Press), Sweden (Weyler), Poland (Prószyński), Hungary (Fekete Sas), Turkey (Cali Adam), Greece (Patakis), Israel (Matar)

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Nominated for the Premio Strega Europeo 2019 (Italy)

Longlisted for the Angelus Central European Literature Award (Poland)


Literary Prize of the Jürgen Ponto-Stiftung 2017 (Germany)


Shortlisted for the ZDF-“aspekte”-Literaturpreis 2017 (Germany)


Who’s to tell you who you are?


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.


»Ruptured often, full of nooks and crannies and reflections, the novel succeeds nonetheless in unfurling its breath-taking story of a family and a century like a shimmering kaleidoscope.« Sandra Kegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Beside Yourself is a young book and an incredible mark-maker of contemporary storytelling.« Hubert Winkels, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»The expectations for the first novel by Sasha Marianna Salzmann are high and Außer sich (‘Beyond Yourself’) surpasses them.« Ulrich Seidler, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Salzmann narrates brilliantly, poetically and breathlessly. An intoxicating reading experience.« Missy Magazine

»Salzmann’s sentences flow across the page, her style is lavish and immediate[…]. Great.« Claudia Voigt, Literaturspiegel

»After reading this, you look in astonishment at the slight volume of 306 pages, because the story contains so very much. Salzmann can do theatre – she has already proved that – and she can do prose, with ease.« Tobias Hausdorg, Spiegel Online

»… it is above all the intensity, the vivid language and the compassionate eye cast on generations, and the story itself that make Außer sich such a thrilling novel.« Nadine Lange, Der Tagesspiegel

»An artistically composed coming of age novel.« Lukas Latz , Der Freitag

»A book that stays with you.« Stern

»This is writing by someone who has something to tell.« Die Welt

»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


Book trailer for Beside Yourself: