Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop

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Women in Translation: Sworn Virgin

Monday, Jan 20 2020
19:00 - 20:00
Book Club
location: Lighthouse

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**Our first book of 2020 is Sworn Virgin by Albanian writer, Elvira Dones, and translated by Clarissa Botsford. **

Sworn Virgin made World Literature Today’s list of Notable Translations in 2014 and Three Percent’s list of spectacular Books in Translation 2014.

It is also now a prize-winning film directed by Italian director Laura Bispuri and starring Alba Rohrwacher. 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.

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?


**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. **


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