Irena Brežná

Irena Brežná is a Slovak-born Swiss writer and journalist. Following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 she emigrated to Switzerland, and studied Slavonic studies, philosophy and psychology at Basle University. In addition to writing, she has been an Amnesty International activist and worked as a psychologist and an interpreter for refugees. She has been involved with and supported, a number of humanitarian projects, for example in Guinea as well as in Chechnya, where she also served as war correspondent. She writes mostly in German and has received numerous prizes in Switzerland, Germany and Slovakia for her journalism and literary work, including, in 2002, the Emma Journalist Prize, and the Theodor Wolff Prize for her war reportage from Chechnya. In 2021 the German PEN Centre awarded her the prestigious Hermann Kesten Prize for her writing and commitment to human rights. She has published several collections of essays, short stories and reportages, as well as the novels Schuppenhaut (1989) and Die beste aller Welten (2008). Her third novel, The Thankless Foreigner, published in 2012, received the Swiss Literature Prize and has been translated into Slovak, French, Italian, Russian, Macedonian, Czech, Hungarian, Hindi and Swedish.

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