Magazine article New Internationalist

Sworn Virgin

Magazine article New Internationalist

Sworn Virgin

Article excerpt

Sworn Virgin

by Elvira Dones ranslated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford and other stories, ISBN 9781908276346)

It seems entirely apposite that Albanian novelist Elvira Dones writes both in her native tongue and, as in her latest novel, in Italian. Sworn Virgin is a fascinating study in duality and blurred identity which takes as its subject- matter imposed gender realignment. When high-flying literature student Hana Doda is called back from Tirana to her dying uncle's bedside, she is presented with a choice. Either she enters into an arranged marriage with a local boy and runs her uncle's household, or she bows to Albanian tradition and swears to live the rest of her life in chastity - as a man. Reluctantly, Hana takes the second option and becomes Mark, a chain-smoking shepherd living an impoverished life in the A lbanian mountains, granted male privileges but condemned to lovelessness and solitude. …

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