When her father dies unexpectedly, the young narrator of Elephants in Our Yard finds her life thrown into disarray. As a member of a Turkish Kosovar family now living in Switzerland, she feels unwelcome in her adopted homeland and struggles to fit in and make connections with others. Aimless and adrift, she spends a year living in a state of uncertainty, fitfully attending lectures at the university, taking long train rides, and returning to places from her previous life in Prizren. Memories of her idyllic childhood in this old Ottoman city, from which she emigrated with her family at the age of ten, force their way into the present.
But the world of her childhood no longer exists, and she realizes that she, too, has changed. As she tries to find a place for herself in her new country and becomes fluent in her adopted language, she becomes increasingly more estranged from her mother with every new word of German she speaks.
Elephants in Our Yard is a poignant first novel about a life marked by migration and alienation, sadness and loss, but also by hope and new beginnings.
Praise for the German language edition
“[Kureyshi] has succeeded in using autobiographical set pieces to write an accessible, highly topical novel that strikes a balance between restrained language and lush, poetic storytelling.” Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“Meral Kureyshi’s literary treatment of her migration story goes far beyond the description of an individual fate. In a dense prose with strong imagery, which completely refrains from accusatory or lachrymose tones, she cleverly reflects on the expulsion from her childhood language and the appropriation of her new ‘mother tongue.’ In this new language, she has achieved an exceedingly remarkable feat.” Der Bund
Shortlisted for the 2015 Swiss Book Prize
About the Author
Meral Kureyshi was born in 1983 in Prizren in the former Yugoslavia, where her family belonged to the Turkish-speaking minority. She immigrated to Switzerland with her family in 1992 and now lives in Bern. She has studied German literature at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel, founded a poetry workshop for children, and now works as a freelance writer. Her first novel, Elephants in Our Yard, was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize in 2015, won several awards, and has been translated into many languages. Her second novel, Fünf Jahreszeiten, was published in 2020, and was awarded «Das zweite Buch» prize by the Marianne and Curt Dienemann Foundation.
About the Translator
Bob Cantrick grew up in the United States and attended the University of Rochester, NY, and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, earning a BA degree in German. He did graduate work at the universities of Cologne and Bonn on a fellowship, then continued studies in Germanic languages and literature at Indiana University (Bloomington) on a teaching assistantship. Among many other things, he worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator and editor, and legal secretary-translator. In recent years he concentrated on literary translation. In 2016 he was one of the winners of the New Books in German Translation Competition, and in 2017 he won second prize in the John Dryden Translation Competition for his translation of the first part of Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann, published in the June 2018 issue of Contemporary Critical Studies. In 2018 he was one of the featured translators at the Festival Neue Literatur in New York City. He also translated The Pope’s Left Hand by Friedrich Christian Delius, which was published by Noumena Press in 2019. He died in November 2020.