Elvira Dones

Sworn Virgin

‘Elvira Dones is among the best of Albania’s writers and her publication in English is excellent news.’ – Ismail Kadare

When Hana’s dying uncle calls her back from the city to the family home in the Albanian mountains, he tries to marry her to a local man who could run the household. Unable to accept the arranged marriage and determined to remain independent, Hana’s only option is to follow tradition and vow to live the rest of her life in chastity as a man – and so Hana becomes Mark. For a sworn virgin, there is no way back.

Years later, Mark – now a raki-drinking, chain-smoking shepherd – receives an invitation to join a cousin in the US. This may be Mark’s only chance to escape his vow. But what does he know about being an American woman?

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More Info

Print status: Available
Author: Elvira Dones
Original language: Italian
Format: B-format paperback with flaps
Publication date: 1 October 2015
ISBN: 9781908276346
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276353
Availability: World

Reviews

Ismail Kadare

‘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.’

Jonathan Gibbs
The Independent

‘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’.

Helen Brown
Sunday Telegraph

‘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.’

Jane Shilling
New Statesman

‘A vindication of the PEN Writers in Translation Programme, which supported the publication of this tender, funny and arrestingly original novel.’