Alexandre Hmine
La chiave nel latte
A novel
ISBN 978-88-97308-64-5
208 pages, € 18.00

Alexandre Hmine
The key in the milk

Winner of the 2017 Studer/Ganz Prize

“The key in the milk” tells the story of a boy of Moroccan birth who, left by his mother in the care of a Swiss widow called Elvezia, grows up in Alto Malcantone (Ticino). As the plot unfolds, shards of the protagonist’s past are brought to light: his childhood toys, the religious festivals, the hockey matches played in the road, his first crushes, and the holidays spent in Casablanca – a city that, to the eyes of the then ten-year old protagonist, looks baffling, impenetrable and distant. Although he feels a sense of belonging to Switzerland, the boy is forced to question his own indefinite identity. His doubts and confusion, shared by the reader, will be left unsolved until the end of the book.

The author’s style is clear and concise, giving voice to an array of different languages and cultures – from the local Swiss dialect of Alto Malcantone to Moroccan dialect, with hints of sports jargon and Italian literary tradition.

Alexandre Hmine was born in 1976 in Lugano, where he obtained his high school degree at the city’s Liceo 2. He then graduated in Humanities at the University of Pavia. He was part of the editorial staff of RSI, and then worked as a collaborator for the Swiss weekly newspaper Azione. Since 2004 he has taught Italian in several high schools in the Canton of Ticino. His first novel, La chiave nel latte (“The key in the milk”) earned him the 2017 Studer/Ganz Prize for the best debut work.

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