584 pp (170,000 words)
>>An intelligent and poetic novel about gender, social roles and breaking free
Herida Duro’s family has no male heir, so she is brought up in the Albanian mountains as a boy. As »Virgjinesha«, she has all the rights and freedoms of a man, but is forbidden to indulge in physical love. Leaving rural Lazarú, scarred by partisan fighting, Herida travels to the capital, Tirana, where she toils away at a slaughterhouse with her friend Gjon. While Gjon boards a refugee ship one day, trying to escape the misery and censorship, Herida – always a solitary observer among the other men – becomes a respected filmmaker with the newly founded »Cinema Studio«. Yet the state Albanian film industry is under the thumb of Socialist dictator Enver Hoxha; only in exile in Rome can Herida develop her work freely. She makes friends with the director Paolo Piermonte, and finds material that seems tailor-made for her in the shimmering metropolis for her first independent film.
Writing with great narrative power, Michael Roes interweaves Herida’s story with intoxicating dreams and archaic alternative worlds. He guides the reader through a life lived beyond the feminine or the masculine, a life on the fringe, a life in between – the place where true beauty lives.
»Roes has the language, style and tone to create a pull and a tension that captivates the reader.«
Gavin Armour, goodreads
»Roes is a virtuoso, taking up different tones and forms. (...) An unretrained, epic novel.«
Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau
»The poetry of lighting conditions paired with realistic imagery.«
Andreas Trojan, Diwan Magazine