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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,360 ratings  ·  278 reviews
HERKUNFT ist ein Buch über den ersten Zufall unserer Biografie: irgendwo geboren werden. Und was danach kommt.

HERKUNFT ist ein Buch über meine Heimaten, in der Erinnerung und der Erfindung. Ein Buch über Sprache, Schwarzarbeit, die Stafette der Jugend und viele Sommer. Den Sommer, als mein Großvater meiner Großmutter beim Tanzen derart auf den Fuß trat, dass ich beinahe ni
Hardcover, 365 pages
Published March 17th 2019 by Luchterhand
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  3,360 ratings  ·  278 reviews

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Saša Stanišić
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: wrote
I gave the sensation five stars of how it feels to have written about a life that could very much be my own, and to move so many people in so many ways, people who are and aren’t directly attached to the threads I was trying to tie in fictions and memories and which are and aren’t mine.

Also, I like the goat in space.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-deserved WINNER of the Hans Fallada Prize, the Eichendorff Prize and the German Book Prize 2019!
When Saša Stanišić applied for German citizenship, he was required to present a handwritten curriculum vitae, crafted in complete sentences - it's the law. But when he looked at what he'd written, it didn't seem correct: It's easy to state some facts, but is this who he is, does this contain what has shaped him? In his memoir (haha, German Book Prize, nice move: It's ineligibe, but you don't car
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 1992 a 14-year-old migrant, son of a Serbian father and a Bosnian Muslim mother, flees the ethnic massacres in the post-Yugoslav wars and comes to Germany knowing no other German words than “Mercedes” and “Bayern München”. In 2019 his book wins the prestigious German Book Prize (comparable to Man Booker Prize and Prix Goncourt).

This fact by its own is a symbol of a new phase in German history, when a big part of the German society has foreign roots, and at the same time is solidly grounded in
Britta Böhler
The author sure has a way with words, and part of this memoir was really engaging but other parts, mmh, bored me quite a bit...
It's always a pleasure to read Stanišić. He has something to say. He says it in such a fresh way that my heart leaps with joy.
This is digressive, and autobiographical, and wonderful.
And sad.
And beautiful.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
german book award - deutscher buchpreis 2019
(read in german) memoir of a german writer in his forties, who came to germany in 1992 as a refugee from former jugoslavia and stayed on to become an acclaimed writer. very fragmented storytelling - fragments from the past, from the present, in no real chronological order, stories from the village of his ancestors, stories about his grandmother who lost her memory, stories about his beginnins in germany, first friends, books, the chance to study, to st
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is as beautiful and humorous as it is tragic and honest. We could not have hoped for a better book at our current times as it deals with nationalism, refugees/migration, identity and the unbelievable luck and hardship of life. I highly recommend you start reading it now!
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
This book has won some big prizes and for a very good reason: it's brilliant. Funny, heartbreakingly sad, it tells the true story of a Yugoslavian (a country that no longer exists) family emigrating to Germany, and the son's youth in his new home. As the daughter of a Yugoslavian immigrant, there was so much in here that I recognized - never have I felt so "represented" in a book as a demographic, and in terms of what I knew, liked and did as I grew up. It's mostly a memoir, and partly fabulism ...more
All My Friends  Are Fictional
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading it the second time made me appreciate this book more. I now actually like the roughness and chaos of it all. This book is important and I’m happy I had made myself read it again. To be fair, I’m not going to delete my initial review:
I wasn't very eager to read this but decided to give it a go since it was awarded the German Book Prize 2019. I feel that it didn't win solely because of literary merit. I think the whole Handke controversy and Stanišić's stance on it gave it the needed fina
Sarah Dorothea
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-book-club
2 out of 5 stars! ⭐ THIS WAS OUR NOVEMBER BOOKS CLUB READ and it really wasn't to my taste... When Saša Stanišić applied for German citizenship, he was required to present a handwritten curriculum vitae, crafted in complete sentences - it's the law. But when he looked at what he'd written, it didn't seem correct: It's easy to state some facts, but is this who he is, does this contain what has shaped him? In his memoir, Stanišić takes on the herculean task to understand his own life, and while hi ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It would be wrong to give this book anything but 5 stars. A loving collage of all the fragments that make up identity and belonging, a meditation on memory and a tribute to so many loving and loved people. Poignant in its humor as well as in profound sadness.
Juli Men Diss
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved the simple language with poetic build up, the sensitivity and insights.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stanišić explores his "Herkunft" (origin) in this autobiographical novel. In non-chronological segments he tells us of his relationship to his Serbian grandma, who may or may not have been head of the local mafia, of his family's escape from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Germany during the Yugoslav war, of the challenges of integrating into the new country, discovering a love of language and his later visits to reconnect with his roots and leftover family members in Bosnia. His stories are quirky an ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A surprise Christmas present from a German friend. A meditation about provenance and displacement written in a unique voice that in its faux fairy-tale tone is able to convey both comedy and pathos moving forward and backwards in time and between the pre- and post-war Balkans and Germany. Winner of the German book award 2019 and hopefully available in English translation soon
Stefan Schmager
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story about identity, homeland and belonging. Saša Stanišić describes the tension between growing up in a place that lets you feel you aren’t welcome and another place which you only have vague memories of but it feels more home than anything else. More topical than ever.
Saša Stanišić's mostly autobiographical novel "Herkunft" ("Origin", soon to be translated into English) is about the first coincidence in everyone's life: the place of your birth - and everything that comes after that.
Stanišić won the German Book Prize 2019 for this book and it is so well deserved. His story and the story of his grandmother Kristina touched me deeply. The writing is more than beautiful. And I know - you should see the work seperated from the author. But in this case it is well w
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book. It resonates so much with me having a similar background, and it is written with such beauty, ease and humour.

It is often so simple, yet so impactful. The sentences are short but carry so much meaning, so much weight. The language is chosen carefully and infused with nostalgia, melancholy and pain. What makes it even more remarkable is that the author only started learning German in his teenage years and managed to master the language so elegantly.

Where we are born
Nina ( picturetalk321 )
Review anon, vorab nur soviel: The start of this book was a magnificent 5 stars, then most of the book a solid 4, and then the last 90 pages a dismal 2. I give it a generous 4.

ETA: downgraded to a 3 as 5 weeks on I can barely remember it and it is not resonating.
Alison Hardtmann
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Saša Stanišic is given a form to fill out, there's a box labelled "HERKUNFT" (ORIGINS), with much too little space for Stanišic to respond. This book is the longer response to that bureaucratic question. There's his childhood in the city of Višegrad, in a country that doesn't exist anymore. There's his later childhood and teenage years as the child of refugees, living near Heidelberg, Germany. Then there are his parents and his grandparents, especially his grandmother, who remained in Višeg ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read respectively listened to it. Read by the author, which makes it even more authentic and autobiographic. Every politician in Germany (Europe?) should read this book and carefully listen what it takes to successfully integrate migrants and fugitives. Common sense should tell that integration doesn't work the way it is done in Germany, this book proves it. Luckily Saša Stanišić was a child when he came to Germany and was able to attend school otherwise the system would have failed him too. In ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not completely successful. Interesting in parts, but too fragmented, with too many characters, whose stories seemed secondary to the narrator's own thoughts and feelings, that to be honest did not always seem as profound or funny or brilliant as the narrator seemed to think they were. Perhaps a more thorough editing process would have helped? Not every thought is worthy of being captured. This might be a novel that should have been a group of short stories. ...more
Oct 23, 2019 added it
it's hard to rate someone's personal thoughts and this feels exactly like that, a collection of stanišić's thoughts and feelings/a look into his way of being. ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author has an amazing ability to find the right words to describe the feeling of being at home in multiple places, but only being at home a little bit, and the feeling of being somewhat a stranger at all times.
There is also the added layer of seeing one's home pulled away from underneath one's feet, and never being able to come back to that place - in his case due to the terrible things that happened in his hometown during the war in Yugoslavia in the 90s.
Nicolas Schaeffer
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this autobiographical book, Saša Stanišić, reflecting his own life story, deals with very timely and pressing topics of our times: origins and identity. It is narrated in a an unconventional, entertaining way with witty plays on words, vivid and heartwarming anecdotes as well as fragmented memories in a discronological order. Stanišić illustrates that the question about one's origins is difficult to answer when the places one connects his memories with do not exist anymore or are burdened wit ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the first sight, ”Herkunft” appears to be though very enjoyable but merely a recollection of family legends or anecdotes of migrant life in Germany, above all in a confusing a-chronological order. But through this light, playfull, sometimes melancholic narrative, the book smoothly and inconspicuously draws a reader into philosophical reflections about what constitutes one’s own identity and why do we have this urge to define, identify, classify ourselves and others.
Ruben Vermeeren
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Very difficult to rate is a strange memoir, with a very serious subject matter on the hand and a very light and almost giggling narration on the other. The humour was not really my sense of humour and I guess for Germans it is more interesting to read about an immigrant settling in your country.
Nicole Coleman
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite authors and I loved the storytelling as always. The choose-your-own-ending was fun. In contrast to all other books by Stanišić, I had trouble staying with this book through the middle and I am not sure why. The story weaves personal reflection, biography, commentary on migration/identity/belonging together in Stanišić's unique voice, that is funny and quirky and yet profound. ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
More a collection of short stories, moments that have been captured, prodded and then served up to the reader. The reader is invited in to join in the author's exploration of identity, ageing and memory. ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
Mostly harmless. Entertaining, amusing, enjoyable, but nothing extraordinary.
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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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“Jedes Zuhause ist ein zufälliges: Dort wirst du geboren, hierhin vertrieben, da drüben vermachst du deine Niere der Wissenschaft. Glück hat, wer den Zufall beeinflussen kann. Wer sein Zuhause nicht verlässt, weil er muss, sondern weil er will.” 1 likes
“Das ist ein Fazit, in dem der Satz steht: Meine Rebellion war die Anpassung. Nicht an eine Erwartung, wie man in Deutschland als Migrant zu sein hatte, aber auch nicht bewusst dagegen. Mein Widerstreben richtete sich gegen die Fetischisierung von Herkunft und gegen das Phantasma nationaler Identität. Ich war für das Dazugehören. Überall, wo man mich haben und wo ich sein wollte. Kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner finden: genügte.” 1 likes
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