« A groundbreaking work in German literature. » Ocean Vuong
WO AUCH IMMER IHR SEID
(Wherever You Are)
by Khuê Pham
btb/PRH Germany, September 2021
She is 30 years old and her name is Kieu, like the girl in the most famous work of Vietnamese literature. But she prefers to go by « Kim » because it’s easier in Berlin. In 1968, her parents had come to Germany from Saigon. She often wished for a family that didn’t have to become German first, but simply was. The loss of her Vietnamese roots has never bothered her. On the contrary. Until she receives a message. On Facebook. From her uncle. Who has been living in California since he fled.
The whole family is supposed to meet for the reading of Kieu’s grandmother’s will. Kieu does not know these people. To her, the uncles and aunts are as unreal as the spirits of departed ancestors for whom her parents light a few incense sticks on Vietnamese New Year. It becomes a journey full of revelations – about her family, her origins and about herself.
Khuê Pham is one of the most important voices of the new generation of German-Vietnamese. She was born in Berlin in 1982 and studied in London at Goldsmiths College and the London School of Economics. After training at the Henri Nannen School of Journalism, she started as an editor at Die Zeit in 2009. Her stories often tell of how the lives of individuals are shaped by major political issues; she has won several awards for her journalistic work. In 2012, she published « Wir neuen Deutschen » (Rowohlt) with Alice Bota and Özlem Topçu, which is about immigrant children and their place in Germany. WO AUCH IMMER IHR SEID is Khuê Pham’s narrative debut – a literary approach to her own family, whose moving life journey she traces over five decades.