Fly Away, Pigeon
Melinda Nadj Abonji
Translated by Tess Lewis
6 x 9 inches, 212pp. November 2014
ISBN : 9780857422125
Rs 595.00 (HB)
Fly Away, Pigeon tells the heart-wrenching story of a family torn between emigration and immigration and paints evocative portraits of the former Yugoslavia and modern-day Switzerland. In this novel, Melinda Nadj Abonji interweaves two narrative strands, recounting the history of three generations of the Kocsis family and chronicling their hard-won assimilation. Originally part of Serbia’s Hungarian-speaking minority in the Vojvodina, the Kocsis family immigrates to Switzerland in the early 1970s when their hometown is still part of the Yugoslav republic. Parents Miklos and Rosza land in Switzerland knowing just one word—“work.” And after three years of backbreaking, menial work, both legal and illegal, they are finally able to obtain visas for their two young daughters, Ildiko and Nomi, who safely join them. However, for all their efforts to adapt and assimilate they still must endure insults and prejudice from members of their new community and helplessly stand by as the friends and family members they left behind suffer the maelstrom of the Balkan War.
With tough-minded nostalgia and compassionate realism, Fly Away, Pigeon illustrates how much pain and loss even the most successful immigrant stories contain. It is a work that is intensely local, while grounded in the histories and cultures of two distinctive communities. Its emotions and struggles are as universal as the human dilemmas it portrays.
Melinda Nadj Abonji has collaborated since 1998 with poet and beat- boxer Jurczok 1001 (text performance, music, theatre) and led her own writ- ing workshop since 2007. Fly Away, Pigeon, her second novel, won in 2010 the German Book Prize and the Swiss Book Prize.
Tess Lewis has translated seven books and numerous essays and articles from French and German. Her translations include works by Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Julya Rabinowich, Lukas Bï¿½rfuss, Philippe Jaccottet, Pascal Bruckner and Jean-Luc Benoziglio among others. She has been awarded a PEN Translation Fund grant and an NEA Translation Fellowship. She also serves as an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review and writes essays on European Literature for various literary journals and newspapers.