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Distributed for Seagull Books

Fly Away, Pigeon

New edition

Tells the heart-wrenching story of a family torn between emigration and immigration and paints evocative portraits of the former Yugoslavia and modern-day Switzerland.

In this novel, Melinda Nadj Abonji interweaves two narrative strands, recounting the history of three generations of the Kocsis family and chronicling their hard-won assimilation. Originally part of Serbia’s Hungarian-speaking minority in the Vojvodina, the Kocsis family immigrates to Switzerland in the early 1970s when their hometown is still part of the Yugoslav republic. Parents Miklos and Rosza land in Switzerland knowing just one word—“work.”  And after three years of backbreaking, menial work, both legal and illegal, they are finally able to obtain visas for their two young daughters, Ildiko and Nomi, who safely join them. However, for all their efforts to adapt and assimilate they still must endure insults and prejudice from members of their new community and helplessly stand by as the friends and family members they left behind suffer the maelstrom of the Balkan War.

With tough-minded nostalgia and compassionate realism, Fly Away, Pigeon illustrates how much pain and loss even the most successful immigrant stories contain. It is a work that is intensely local, while grounded in the histories and cultures of two distinct communities. Its emotions and struggles are as universal as the human dilemmas it portrays. 

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“This novel repays close reading. Its lyrical nostalgia, tempered by Ildi’s tough, ironic eye, etches the fate of those displaced by history, outsiders at home and abroad, while its seemingly artless structure deftly renders this young woman’s struggle for self-discovery amid disparate cultures and fragmented histories.”

World Literature Today

“There is much to say about Fly Away, Pigeon besides that it is a narrative of immigration. It is a novel about family and memory, about young love and the history of post-1945 Yugoslavia, a novel written in lyrical, experimental prose.”

Reading in Translation

Table of Contents

Tito’s Summer

The Kocsis Family

Border Police, Weeping Willows

Words Like






Real Big

Mamika and Papuci

Love. The Sea. The River

Hands in the Air


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