Ausser sich, by Sasha Marianna Salzmann

Salzmann cover

‘Beside Yourself’

Suhrkamp, September 2017

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017

Sample Translation


From the very beginning, it has always been the two of them: the twins Alissa and Anton. In the one-bedroom flat in Moscow in the post-Soviet years, they cling to each other’s curls when their parents fight. Later, in provincial West Germany, they roam the hallways of the asylum centre. And, later still, Anton disappears without a trace. At some point, a postcard arrives from Istanbul – with nothing written on it and no return address. Alissa sets out on a quest – for her missing brother, but above all for a feeling of belonging that goes beyond fatherland, mother tongue or gender.


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, Salzmann began writing her debut novel Beside Yourself, which she completed in the following years and during her regular stays in Turkey.

The jury’s comments:

A debut novel of great linguistic and dramaturgical power: from post-Soviet Moscow via a refugee centre in provincial West Germany to present-day Istanbul, Sasha Marianna Salzmann writes about the upheavals and solidarity of the Tschepanows, a refugee family. Yet, above all, she writes with confidence, a wealth of perspectives, humour and great focus about the younger generation of these ‘homeland wanderers’, a generation fighting for their identity – linguistic, political and sexual. With a fascinating tone all her own, she describes anew the many ways reality has of thwarting the personal dreams of this globe-spanning generation. Europe grows larger in this book, but doesn’t quite become home.