Irena Brezna

The Thankless Stranger

Die undankbare Fremde

The Thankless Stranger

Literature Prize of the Swiss Confederation 2012
Recommended for translation by New Books in German
Recommended for translation by Pro Helvetia

In 1968 the female narrator emigrates with her family and ends up in Switzerland, a safe harbour of bizarre saturation, a paradise placed behind fences, full of street wardens and road sweepers – too many contradictions for a girl like her. Already on arrival her name is garbled by the border guards. From then onwards she is forced to sail under false colours and in the cold beaming lights of the foreign country she misses the illiberal, scruffy safety of her homeland. As an adolescent she rebels against the host country that forces her to obey its rules and won’t let her be herself. After many clashes she finds a way out and becomes an interpreter between emigrants and the authorities.

She meets a phalanx of the stranded who hope they can make something out of their lives – petty thieves, depressives, dodgers, war refugees, the exploited, the over-adapted, and the naive. Like mini novels, condensed scenes of paradoxical lives are scattered throughout the whole book.



ISBN: 978-3-86971-052-5
release: 12. March 2012
144 pages, gebunden mit SU


16,99 €
0,00 sFr
17,50 €

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About the Author

Irena Brežná was born in Czechoslovakia in 1950 and emigrated to Switzerland in 1968. She works as a court interpreter, as a war correspondent (Chechnya), and is a humanitarian helper for the Red Cross. For her autobiographically inspired novels and her war reportages she has been awarded a multitude of literary and journalist prizes (Theodor-Wold Prize and the EMMA Journalist Prize et al). Her previous novel Die beste aller Welten has been sold to the Czech Republic (Paseka), Slovakia (Aspekt) and Belarus (Lohvinava).