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, 2007) 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. ------- Clarissa Botsford studied Italian at Cambridge and Comparative Education in London before moving to Rome. She has worked in the fields of teaching, intercultural education and publishing, and is also a musician. She currently teaches English and Translation Studies at Rome University and translates contemporary Italian fiction and poetry.