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Melinda Nadj Abonji's novel "Falcons without Falconers�

Melinda Nadj Abonji: "Falcons without Falconers" (Tauben fliegen auf)

Jung und Jung Verlag

English excerpt

The book: They roll up in a chocolate-brown Chevrolet with Swiss plates, much to the general astonishment of the people of the town, whose main street really wasn't made for automobiles like this one. They are the Kocsis, and the town is in the Vojvodina in northern Serbia, home to the country's Hungarian-speaking minority, to which the Kocsis belong.

Or rather, used to belong. Some years ago they emigrated to Switzerland, first the parents and then, as soon as they were legally able, the two daughters, Nomi and Ildiko. It is Ildiko who is telling this story: telling about this visit, which won't be the only one, since weddings and deaths will call them back time and again, back to where Mamika and all the rest of their relations live, as long as they are themselves still alive.

So the Kocsis' home is Switzerland, but it's not an easy place to call home, and certainly not to feel at home, although they run a cafeteria there, and it's where the kids grew up. Still, the parents have made it, although the daughters, Ildiko in particular, sometimes feel like Switzerland wasn't made for them, like they're only tolerated there. All it takes is to eavesdrop on the disputes that break out among the staff, from the various former Yugoslavian republics, to wake up to Europe, a peculiar place whose inhabitants refuse to recognise one another.

The author: Melinda Nadj Abonji
Born 22 June 1968 in Becsej, Serbia. Lives in Zurich as an author and musician. Nadj Abonji's first novel, "Im Schaufenster im Frühling" (In the Showcase in Spring), was published in 2004 and has received numerous awards.

Photo © Gaëtan Bally - let's talk european