A provocative, engaging and absolutely fascinating novel about one woman’s decision to move from a struggling post communist Albania, to the complexity of America, after she has spent years living as a man. We join the intriguing Hana as she begins her journey, we ponder her decision to adopt a rare custom that allowed her to remain independent as Mark. We watch as her move offers her freedom, allows her choices; can she learn, grow, rediscover her voice? The eloquent yet simple writing style that accompanies this complicated subject matter highlights the contrasts in Hana’s two worlds. This is a stimulating, thought-provoking read that will pique your interest and leave you wanting to know much, much more. It’s worth noting that although there are two extreme obscenities on the first page, they are not littered throughout the rest of the book and do help set the scene. ~ Liz Robinson
A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher...
'When the manuscript for Elvira Dones’ Sworn Virgin, in Clarissa Botsford’s translation, landed on our desks, a buzz went round the team. The subject matter is immediately gripping: young Albanian mountain woman takes a vow of chastity and lives as a man for fifteen years, then breaks vow and emigrates to the US, where she must learn to live as a woman again…
Elvira Dones handles the topic with masterly care. She rejects all traces of sensationalism or showiness, opting instead to just get on with telling us the protagonist’s incredible story.
With Dones’ straightforward style comes an absolute dedication to emotional honesty – and it was this that really cinched it for us. Sworn Virgin is a page-turner without any of the throwaway associations that term carries; Hana’s story stayed with us long after we first read it. This an important book, and one we’re proud to have published. '
Ana Fletcher - Editor, And Other Stories
Elvira Dones tackles cultural and gender disorientation and identity while seamlessly expanding upon immigrant and emigrant status and the multiple levels of transition. Mark's decision to shake off her oath after fourteen years and to re-appropriate what is left of Hana's body and mind by moving to the United States creates a powerful rupture. The transition to a new life as a woman striving to shed the burden of her virginity is fraught with challenges, and the first-generation assimilated cousins with whom Hana tentatively undertakes her new life make her task no easier. Sworn Virgin is the first novel Elvira Dones wrote in Italian. She adds her voice to the burgeoning new generation of blended Italians, who deliberately adopt a dirty immigrant/exile approach to their language.According to Albanian tradition, if there are no male heirs, a woman can choose to become a man--and enjoy the associated freedoms--as long as she swears herself to virginity for life.Clever young Hana is ushered home by her uncle's impending death. Forced to abandon her studies in Tirana, she takes an oath and assumes the persona of Mark, a hardened mountain peasant--her only choice if she wants to be saved from an arranged marriage.
'Elvira Dones is one of the most distinguished Albanian authors writing today. Astonishing, brilliant, and unabashed by taboos of any kind, she is as much at ease in Albanian as in the rest of European literature - The protagonist of this novel passes through all the tribulations of this frightening transformation like the actor in some extraordinary role in a classical drama that hurtles towards its denouement.'
------ 'Elvira Dones deals with issues at the heart of western civilisation today, such as migrant and gender identity, and the tormented relationships we may have our bodies.
Liliana Moro www.universitadelledonne.it
'An intelligent and painful play on identity, and on the freedom of body and spirit
Lara Crino Repubblica Donne
'An unusual and beautiful Bildungsroman
Marilia Piccone Stradanove
'Increasingly these days, true stories are turned into fiction, and novelists are able to tell these stories more successfully than journalists. Elvira Dones has finally given a voice to those Albanian women who hope one day to regain the femininity they once denied in order to be counted equal in society.'
Silvia Mazzocchi Repubblica
Publication date: 13/05/2014
Publisher: And Other Stories
|Publication date:||13th May 2014|
|Author:||Elvira Dones, Clarissa Botsford|
|Publisher:||And Other Stories|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Born in Durres, Albania, Elvira Dones is a novelist, screenwriter and documentary film-maker currently based in the US. After seven novels in Albanian, she wrote the two most recent in Italian, her adopted language: Vergine giurata (Sworn Virgin, 2007), and Piccola guerra perfetta (Small Perfect War, 2010) about the Kosovo war. In her prize-winning documentary on the phenomenon of 'sworn virgins' in Albania, Dones interviews twelve survivors of the tradition, one of whom has recently emigrated to the US, like Hana in the novel. A film of the book is due out in 2014. Clarissa Botsford studied Italian at Cambridge and Comparative Education ...More About Elvira Dones, Clarissa Botsford