ALEXANDRE HMINE was born in Lugano in 1976. He has worked as a national and regional journalist in Switzerland, and has taught Italian in secondary schools since 2004. His debut novel The Key in the Milk won the Studer/Ganz Prize in 2017. PHOTO © Andrea Mazzoni
This coming-of-age novel tells the story of a Moroccan boy growing up in Ticino in Switzerland, where his teenage mother leaves him in the care of an elderly widow, Elvezia. Spanning the period from early childhood to university and the beginning of his teaching career, the un-named protagonist recounts moments from his everyday life with Elvezia and his school friends. He describes his teenage years and growing curiosity about the opposite sex. He also visits his birth mother and stepfamily, where he learns about Muslim customs and his Moroccan heritage. Balancing his two lives, acquiring two passports, feeling the pressure to explain himself to those around him, the boy develops the suspicion that he doesn’t really fit in anywhere.