Sasha Marianna Salzmann

© Stefan Loeber

Sasha Marianna Salzmann was born in 1985 in Volgograd, Russia (formerly Soviet Union), and grew up in Moscow. In 1995, she moved with her family to Germany and studied literature, theater, and media in Hildesheim and creative writing for the stage at the Berlin University of the Arts. As a student, she published poems and short stories in several magazines and co-founded »freitext«, where she was also an editor for twelve years. Her first directorial projects included her production of »Waiting for Godot« by Samuel Beckett and »Rot Werden« (tr. Turning Red), a Putin satire. Salzmann also developed projects that were conceptualized for both hearing- and non-hearing-impaired people, such as the Joan of Arc parody »Jeanne ist tot und kommt heute nicht mehr vorbei« (tr. Joan is Dead and Won’t Be Stopping By Today).

Salzmann began writing her first novel, »Außer sich« (2017; tr. Beside Myself), in 2012/13 as a grant recipient at the Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul; she finished her début, which was nominated for the German Book Prize in its year of release, during her visits to Turkey over the following years. In it, she tells the story of the twins Alissa and Anton, who grow up in a Moscow apartment in the post-Soviet era and later in an asylum camp in rural western Germany. Many years later, after Alissa has quit her studies in mathematics and decides to dedicate herself to boxing training, her brother Anton disappears without a trace. Finally, a postcard arrives from Istanbul with neither sender nor text, but it becomes the impetus for Alissa to embark on a search for her brother in the bustling city on the Bosporus. »A début novel with great linguistic and dramatic power […] But above all, she tells the story with confidence, a richness of perspectives, humor, and great absoluteness, a story of this young generation of migrants who fight for their own identities: linguistic, political, and sexual. With regard to the personal dreams of this global generation, she reinvents defeat at the hands of reality with a fascinating, unique voice« (Jury of the German Book Prize).

As a student, Salzmann was awarded the wienerwortsaetten Preis in 2009 for her piece »Weißbrotmusik« (tr. White Bread Music), for which she also won the IKARUS 2012 for best youth play. In 2012, she also received the 17th Kleist Prize for young playwrights for »Muttermale Fenster blau« (tr. Birth Marks Windows Blue) and was awarded the Mühlheim Audience Prize for »Muttersprache Mameloschn« (tr. Mother Tongue Mamaloshen) in 2013. »Außer sich« won the literature prize of the Jürgen Ponto Foundation and the Mara Cassens Prize (2017). Together with Maxi Obexer, Salzmann founded the Neue Institut für Dramatisches Schreiben (New Institute for Dramatic Writing). From 2013 to 2015, she directed the »Studio Я« studio stage and its artist group »Conflict Zone Arts Asylum«. She lives in Berlin.