Where You Come From
“A triumph. . . . An exhilarating and powerful read.” —Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick
Translated from the German by Damion Searls
Winner of the German Book Prize, Saša Stanišić’s inventive and surprising novel asks: what makes us who we are?
In August, 1992, a boy and his mother flee the war in Yugoslavia and arrive in Germany. Six months later, the boy’s father joins them, bringing a brown suitcase, insomnia, and a scar on his thigh. Saša Stanišić’s Where You Come From is a novel about this family, whose world is uprooted and remade by war: their history, their life before the conflict, and the years that followed their escape as they created a new life in a new country.
Blending autofiction, fable, and choose-your-own-adventure, Where You Come From is set in a village where only thirteen people remain, in lost and made-up memories, in coincidences, in choices, and in a dragons’ den. Translated by Damion Searls, it’s a novel about homelands, both remembered and imagined, lost and found. A book that playfully twists form and genre with wit and heart to explore questions that lie inside all of us: about language and shame, about arrival and making it just in time, about luck and death, about what role our origins and memories play in our lives.
“[Saša Stanišić is] a Bosnian-German wunderkind whose gripping tale about a refugee family marries formal experimentation and deadpan humor amid the suffocating smoke of survivors’ guilt.”
“Saša Stanišic is a revolutionary who has found his true home in language.”
—The Rolling Stone
“Tender, intelligent, and brilliant. . . . a stunning novel that asks what it really means to be from somewhere, anywhere.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review
“A shape-shifting self-portrait with some mesmerizing elements.”
“Vast and multifaceted. . . . a timely antidote to poisonous political blame-games and sneering statements about the plight of refugees.”
“Where You Come From is a triumph, funny and touching and subtly profound. As it ranges from chronicle to prose poem to folk tale, it builds a momentum that dazzles throughout. An exhilarating and powerful read.”
—Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick
“A Speak, Memory for ‘The Garden of Forking Paths,’ Stanišić’s tour of his lost homeland is imbued with wit and affection. He knows stories are all we have, and that some stories can’t be bound by a single ending. A marvel and a delight.”
—Ryan Chapman, author of Riots I Have Known