Sworn Virgin

Sworn Virgin

Author: Elvira Dones

Translator: Clarissa Botsford

Original language: Italian

Published by: And Other Stories, 2014

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Hana Doda is an ambitious literature student in cosmopolitan Tirana. Mark Doda is a raki-drinking, chain-smoking shepherd, living alone deep in the Albanian mountains. In fact, they are the same person. When Hana’s dying uncle calls her home from the city, he asks her to marry a local boy in order to run the household. Unable to accept the arranged marriage and resolved to remain independent, she must vow in accordance with Albanian tradition to live the rest of her life in chastity as a man – and becomes Mark. There is no way back for a sworn virgin.

Years later Mark receives an invitation to join a cousin in Rockville, Maryland U.S.A. This is Mark’s opportunity to escape his vow and to leave Albania for modern America. But what does he know about being a woman?

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