Goethe Book Club Goethe Book Club Goes Digital: Sasha Marianna Salzmann's Beside Myself (2017/2020)

Beside Myself - English © Other Press, Penguin Random House

Tue, 07/07/2020


Read and discuss works by contemporary German authors in this series hosted by the Goethe-Institut. All books can be read in recent English translation or in the German original; our discussion will be in English. Led in April by guest facilitator Raleigh Joyner, Goethe-Institut Washington’s program coordinator, this book club focuses on contemporary fiction and will explore experiences and thoughts about the text.

Beside Myself / Außer sich (2017 / 2020) by Sasha Marianna Salzmann, translated by Imogen Taylor

Beside Myself is the disturbing and exhilarating story of a family across four generations. At its heart is one woman’s search for her twin brother. When Anton goes missing and the only clue is a postcard sent from Istanbul, Alissa leaves her life in Berlin to find him. Without her twin, the sharer of her memories and the mirror of her own self, Ali is lost.

In a city steeped in political and social changes, where you can buy gender-changing drugs on the street, Ali’s search—for her missing brother, for her identity—will take her on a journey for connection and belonging.

Beside Myself is a brilliant literary debut about belonging, about family and love, and about the enigmatic nature of identity.

(Source: Text Publishing Company, February 2019)
RSVP Sasha Marianna Salzmann, born 1985 in Volgograd, Russia, grew up in Moscow until 1995. In order to escape post-Soviet Union antisemitism in Russia, their family emigrated to Germany. Salzmann studied Literature, Theatre and Media at the University of Hildesheim, and Creative Writing for the Stage at the Berlin University of the Arts. They are a playwright, essayist, curator, and writer in residence at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin. Salzmann’s work has been translated, shown, and awarded in over 20 countries. Beside Myself is Salzmann’s debut novel and has been translated into 16 languages; it has won the Mara-Cassens Prize and the Jürgen-Ponto Award for best debut novel. It was also shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2017, the Premio Strega Europeo 2019, and the Angelus Central European Literature Award 2019.

Guest facilitator Raleigh Joyner is the program coordinator at the Goethe-Institut Washington, where he curates much of the film and literature programming. He holds an M.A. in Germanic Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. His thesis explored how Germany’s history shaped the 20th-century landscape of Berlin and its subcultures, and his second research area focused on the writings of the Mann family. He holds a B.A. in Germanic Studies and a B.A. in English Language & Literature from UMD. His English literature studies focused on 20th-century literatures of the American South, creative writing, and folklore.