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Translated by Christina E. Kramer
“My Father’s Books, with its hypnotic repetitions and its
varied meditations on one and the same theme, is like an
extended prose poem, an elegy in the form of a novel.
Beautifully translated, it is a book to be savored.”
—Madeline G. Levine, translator of
Milosz’s ABC’s
My Father’s Books
, the first volume in Luan Starova’s multivolume
Balkan Saga, he explores themes of history, displacement, and iden-
tity under three turbulent regimes—Ottoman, Fascist, and Stalinist—
in the twentieth century. Weaving a story from the threads of his
parents’ lives from 1926 to 1976, he offers a child’s-eye view of
personal relationships in shifting political landscapes and an elegiac
reminder of the enduring power of books to sustain a literate culture.
Through lyrical waves of memory, Starova reveals his family’s
overlapping religious, linguistic, national, and cultural histories. His
father left Constantinople as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the
young family fled from Albania to Yugoslav Macedonia when Luan
was a boy. His parents, cosmopolitan and well-traveled in their youth,
and steeped in the cultures of both Orient and Occident, find them-
selves raising their children in yet another stagnant and repressive
state. Against this backdrop, Starova remembers the protected spaces
of his childhood—his mother’s walled garden, his father’s library, the
cupboard holding the rarest and most precious of his father’s books.
Preserving a lost heritage, these books also open up a world that seems
wide, deep, and boundless.
is a novelist, poet, scholar,
diplomat, and literary translator. An Albanian
from the Republic of Macedonia who writes in
both the Albanian and Macedonian languages,
he has served as the Republic of Macedonia’s
ambassador to France, Spain, and Portugal, and
was formerly professor of French at the University
of Skopje. His books have been translated into
many languages.
Christina E. Kramer
is professor
of Slavic and Balkan languages and linguistics at
the University of Toronto. She is the author of
the language textbook
and co-translator of the novel
Ganyo: Incredible Tales of a Modern Bulgarian
, both published by the
University of Wisconsin Press.
• First English translation
May 2012
LC: 2011046137 PG
136 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-28794-8
e-book $16.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-28793-1
Autobiographical Fiction / Slavic & Balkan Studies
• SPRING 2012 •
Of related interest
Edited by Victor A. Friedman
Translated by Victor A. Friedman, Christina E. Kramer, Grace E. Fielder, and Catherine Rudin
“A rollicking, Rabelaisian masterpiece, skillfully translated. Victor Friedman’s meticulous
editing provides linguistic, cultural, and political context.”—Harold B. Segel, Columbia
Published May 2010
LC: 2009041983 PG 172 pp. 6 x 9
ISBN 978-0-299-23694-6 Paper $19.95 t ISBN 978-0-299-23693-9 e-book $9.99 t
“Powerful, articulate, subtle, and moving,
My Father’s Books goes beyond the genre of
memoir—it is at once a meditation on life and
a history of the Balkans in the twentieth cen-
tury told from a unique point of view with
universal values. Kramer’s translation renders
Starova’s language with accuracy and grace.”
—Victor A. Friedman, University of Chicago
Wisconsin edition not for sale in Macedonia.