Boundless Language: Melinda Nadj Abonji’s Fly Away, Pigeon, Translated by Tess Lewis

seems like a wonderful book to delve on. very apt for the current scenario.

Reading in Translation

Reviewed by Rachel Harland

Melinda Nadj Abonji-Fly Away PigeonIn an interview given shortly after receiving the 2010 German Book Prize* for her semi-autobiographical novel Fly Away, Pigeon, Serbian-born Swiss author Melinda Nadj Abonji was asked whether it annoyed her that in the run-up to the award announcement commentators had labeled her book “immigrant literature.” Her response? “It doesn’t annoy me, but I think it’s an uninteresting way to talk about books.” Of course, she acknowledged, the novel encompasses “different worlds.” It follows the Kocsis family—Hungarian-speaking immigrants to Switzerland from the autonomous Serbian province of Vojvodina—as they struggle to establish themselves in an affluent village near Zurich while making periodic visits back to their Yugoslavian hometown during the years preceding that region’s disintegration. And yet, Nadj Abonji added, ultimately “language knows no bounds.” If her first remark addresses the homogenizing thrust of a category that lumps together highly diverse authors and texts, the second…

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