Irena Brežná

Die undankbare Fremde / The Ungrateful Stranger



The topic of this autobiographical novel is coming to terms with a new environment in emigration, in which one’s identity comes into conflict with a foreign mentality. The author expresses the clash between her Slovak identity and the Swiss national identity with ease and a certain amount of irony. Initially, the heroine chooses to consciously build insurmountable walls in an attempt to protect what remains of “hers.” At the same time, she has to reassess her views constantly. In the author’s own words, the novel, which won the Swiss Literary Prize, is a record of half a century’s personal experience and the result of her career as an interpreter for immigrants, thus providing a universally accurate reflection of what migrants around the world may experience.

Published by Baobab&GplusG, 2021


©KEYSTONE/Gaetan Bally

Irena Brežná (* 1950) spent her childhood in Slovakia, from where she emigrated with her parents to Switzerland in 1968. There she worked as an interpreter for Swiss authorities in the field of migrant care, as a Russian teacher, and as a psychologist in psychological research institutes. At the same time, she was involved in Amnesty International and worked as a women’s rights activist. She has received numerous awards for her journalistic and literary texts in German. Her books The Best of All Worlds (Die beste aller welten) (2010) and She-Wolves from Sernovodsk (Wölfinnen von Sernowodsk) (2012) were published in Czech.




Zuzana Henešová