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Meine Eltern / Alles nicht dein Eigen

Aleksandar Hemon │ Henning Ahrens

Meine Eltern / Alles nicht dein Eigen, Photo: Silke Briel / HKW

Jury’s comment

“Only that which is difficult or impossible to remember is worth remembering. Only that which is hard or impossible to say is worth saying,” writes Aleksandar Hemon in his double memoir Meine Eltern / Alles nicht dein Eigen (My Parents: An Introduction / This Does Not Belong to You), recounting his parents’ flight from Sarajevo and their new life in Canada. Hemon attentively shows how damaged and incomplete time remains after displacement, and how his parents reconstruct their lost homeland so accurately until it becomes more real than the actual place ever was. In the second part, the author inverts the first, so that snippets of memories of his childhood emerge as the lining of his parents’ story. This is accompanied by a change in tone, the language becomes rougher and more inward, the two parts brush against the grain. How well all this works is also due to Henning Ahrens’ translation skills. I read the book with bated breath as it tells of a life that still lies ahead for many people who have recently had to flee.

– Annika Reich

Aleksander Hemon

Author: Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon was in the U.S. in 1992 on a cultural exchange when he learned of the siege of his hometown of Sarajevo. He decided to remain in exile. Since 1995, he has written in English and published regularly in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review and other journals. The MacArthur Foundation awarded him the Genius Grant in 2004. Since his novel The Lazarus Project at the latest, he has been one of the most respected voices in contemporary American literature. Hemon lives with his family in Princeton, New Jersey.

Henning Ahrens, © Gabrielle Strijewski

Translator: Henning Ahrens

Henning Ahrens translates poetry, children’s and young adult books and novels from English, including works by Saul Bellow, Hanif Kureishi, Richard Powers and Jonathan Safran Foer. As an author, he publishes poetry and prose; his most recent publication was his novel Glantz und Gloria.