Born in Durres, Albania, Elvira Dones is a novelist, screenwriter and documentary film-maker currently dividing her time between the US, Switzerland and Albania. After seven novels in Albanian, she wrote the two most recent in Italian, her adopted language: Vergine giurata (Sworn Virgin) 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 six survivors of the practice, one of whom emigrated to the US like Hana in the novel. A film adaptation of the novel Sworn Virgin was released in 2015.
- Read more about the ‘subtle and provocative’ Sworn Virgin.
- Read Elvira Dones’s facebook page here.
- Read Elvira Dones’ piece on sworn virgins and her novel in PEN Atlas, Helen Brown’s feature-interview with her for Sunday Telegraph and National Post (Canada), Female First’s interview with Elvira on Sworn Virgin, and her interview with BBC World Service.
- Visit Elvira Dones’ website.
- Sworn Virgin is now a prize winning film directed by Italian director Laura Bispuri and starring Alba Rohrwacher! Ahead of a general release, it has won top prizes at film festivals, including the Nora Ephron Prize at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and the Firebird Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
‘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 dénouement.’
‘This book by Elvira Dones grabs the attention with its subject matter even before you turn the first page . . . As well as this unusual coming-of-age story, with its shadow of death and grief, Dones gives us a compelling portrait of life under communist rule, where “anyone who owns a pair of jeans in Tirana is rich and powerful” . . . a fascinating story’.
‘A subtle and provocative novel which leaves the reader full of admiration for the strength and stoicism of those who choose a path like Hana’s. And bristling with questions about the hypocrisy of a society which treats women in skirts as intellectually, emotionally and physically inferior to men, yet accepts the total equality of a woman in trousers.’
‘A vindication of the PEN Writers in Translation Programme, which supported the publication of this tender, funny and arrestingly original novel.’